Google announces Android Wear, their pre-iWatch wrist-play

Google has officially announced Android Wear, their new wearable-focused software platform and — no surprise here — they're starting with the smartwatch. It's a trendy product category, fueled in no small part by rumors of an impending iWatch from Apple and all sorts of gadgets and bands from tech and fitness giants both. Phil Nickinson writing from Android Central:

Much like Google Now on a smartwatch, Android Wear is designed to focus on timely information, delivered when it's most relevant — Google's announcement media mentions social updates, chat updates and notifications from shopping and news apps, for instance.

Naturally the "OK Google" keyword can also activate voice input, just as it does in the Google Now Launcher, allowing you to get answers to spoken questions, or perform other commends like sending text messages or setting alarms. That means voice commands from Android Wear devices can also link back to your phone and, for example start music or movie playback.

A couple of manufacturers have already announced their support for the platform as well. Motorola is fielding the Moto 360 this summer. Adam Zeis:

The Moto 360 features a simple, classic design but thanks to Android Wear, it will also give you notifications and let you perform voice commands. From the looks of it here it's not screaming "smartwatch", but going with a much more elegant look on the outside

LG, the G Watch, also coming this summer. Alex Dobie:

[G Watch], teased briefly in today's announcement post, sports an angular design with a reflective black chassis. LG's announcement mentions many of the features which were highlighted in in Google's Android Wear demo reel. So you're looking at a wearable that can respond to voice commands through the "OK Google" hotword, as well as presenting relevant info in a similar way to Google Now on a phone.

While I don't have anything specific to go on, from the outside none of these look much how I'd imagine an iWatch would look. However, the idea of Google Now cards on a watch is compelling. (I'd go so far as to say they were designed to make this inevitable). Check out our sibling sites, Android Central and Smartwatch Fans for ongoing coverage and let me know — is this the type of wearable you want from Apple?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Google announces Android Wear, their pre-iWatch wrist-play


Seriously...this title is horrible.

This isn't Google trying to get a leg up on Apple. Its a natural extention of what they were already planning. Saying that they were fueled by rumors is a serious discredit to Google and their work.

Rene, you should be ashamed.

Annoyed me when people say a device is either a copy of a apple product or a preemptive announcement based on apple rumors.. It's always those to and no other reasons.. Samsungs 12" tablet was made because of Apple Ipad 12" rumors and just recently the appeal healthbook leak there was so many comments about how Samsungs s health which is a year old was because of Apple to.

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Agree with you completely. How is any of this "pre iWatch" when Apple hasn't announced anything. So will the "iWatch" will be classified as "post Android Wear wrist-play" by this site when/if it is ever released? Doubtful....

Yup. Horribly inaccurate title. Pretty much expected from the editor of the website that thinks Apple is at the center of the technological universe.

The problem is that it's basically a news story on the same day of announcement. The title reads more like an editorial. I agree with Rene but I would like to hear his thoughts on why he believes this in more than just the title.

Completely agree.

Logged in to comment for the first time in ages just to point out how disappointing this post is.

You're really going to pick the absolute least impressive photo of the entire bunch chosen to lead the article (seriously, why use this photo instead of the Moto 360, which is unlike any smart watch released to date)? What a disservice to the readers. It's also pretty goofy to say "it's a trendy product category, fueled in no small part by rumors of an impending iWatch." That's like calling Smart TVs a trendy product category, fueled in no small part by rumors of an impending Apple TV. Gotta get outside of that Apple bubble a bit. Technological advancement doesn't all revolve around what's going on in Cupertino.

Agree 100%. iMore can't get mad at people critiquing unannounced Apple products and then compare other products unfavorably to unannounced Apple products.

I say this all the time on here, but I prefer iMore because you guys usually stay away from these kinds of headlines. You sound like 9to5Mac when you do this garbage.

This is Google trailing behind Samsung + Tizen.

We'll see how well Android Wear disposables do against:
1. Samsung Gear (running Tizen) and
2. the rumored iWatch (running iOS).

Exactly. This has nothing to do with Apple. It's all about Samsung. If the largest Android vendor goes with another os, that's bad for Google.

Nope. Google Now was always the one things turned off in all my android phones. Really don't want that on my wrists.

Sent from the iMore App

It's to bad. Your missing out on the BEST feature on Android and on any phone OS. You'll see. In the next few years Google Now will be the reason people choose Android. Apple purchased companies that can do some of this and Microsoft is going to start doing this with Cortana. Your essentially saying no I don't want electricity. My candles work just fine.

I don't think they made this *only* due to iWatch rumors, as they didn't release it right when the rumors got big a few years back. I'd say it's 33.3333% Apple, 33.3333% wanting to have a consolidated Android Watch market, and 33.3334% having Google Now+Ads on the watch.

Edited to add words

For the better part of the century, smart watches have been as much as a staple of futurism and sci-fi as the flying car. Dick Tracy has been using one since the 1930s. Do people honestly believe that the smart watch is an Apple creation that other companies are desperately trying to duplicate?

Especially considering there's nothing from Apple to duplicate...

This announcement doesn't affect Apple in the slightest since they're not even in the market. Samsung and Pebble, however, may want to pay close attention :)

I haven't seen any ads on the watch. There will be no ads on the watch. Is there any ads on any Android phone with only the core apps installed? The screens are to tiny for ads. I love how "Apple people" have a one track mind. Ads. Everything Google is Ads. Frankly your wrong. Ads are only in places where they work and don't hurt the product. The only way an ad will be on a watch is if it ads value to the user. Example. Your at work and you looking for something. Lets say a specific type of clothing you wanted and you searched it in Google and clicked on the Amazon link. A few days later your walking down the street and Google has a advertising deal with a specific store. You going to walk past it. This store has exactly the item you searched for. Google knows what site you went to and their prices for that clothing. Your watch vibrates and says if you still want those "jeans" here is a qr code for them at "so and so store" for LESS than the price at "Amazon" and you can get it NOW. If you didn't buy it you click on it to add it to your Google wallet. If you bought it already you swipe it away. Ads don't have to be a pain in the ass. They can be helpful and save you money. Ads are crap now because they don't help you. They aren't saving you any money because the company doing the ad has no idea who they are competing against and what you want. Google and Google Now can give you ads that are coupons for a place your passing with the product you want and with the power to give a better deal then a place your thinking of purchasing it from. The is a place that stores, Google, and the customers can all be served without making for a bad experience. Win, Win, Win.

This makes me want to go back to Android...almost. Come on, Apple, make iWatch something more desirable (and affordable!!).

Think of it this way. Google just dropped an OPEN OS which every manufacture on Earth can use. So what does that mean? It means that watch companies, computer companies, and everyone else can design watches and who knows what else that runs this. So every watch company can use their existing beautiful watch designs with all different levels of quality meaning thousands of dollars to hundreds of dollar in all shapes and sizes allowing You to be You. Apple on the other hand and we don't know if they are even going to have a watch would have to make all of it. Meaning your choices are limited by what Apple makes. Take every watch out and switch the internals and run Android Ware and boom you have thousands of possible choices that can be unique to you. Not everyone having the same watch. Again, I doubt Apple will have a watch. They will probably go fitness wearable but there is a HUGE benefit with what Google just did. It literally just killed every smart watch company today. I feel bad for companies like pebble since they have worked so hard on this for the last 5 years or so and just got crushed. Don't believe me. Watch the mobile nations video.

The question is can Apple make this kind of watch?

Google has a massive data knowledge graph and a contextual operating system in the form of Android and Google Now.

Apple has neither of these. So how is the iWatch going to compete with Android Wear?

I don't see it unless the focus of the iWatch is biometrics, fitness and health.

If Apple were to provide services I would be a bit more excited. As it stands they build a nice product, so I am interested. Motorola seems to have raised the bar pretty high here. And with Android and Google's high functionality it seems a win. Apple of course will rely on third party app developers to give the watch that functionality. And Google will be more than happy to provide their services. I don't think the iWatch will work with an android phone so I probably won't be too excited if and when they release any details.

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This title is soo bad. The iWatch does not exist. Android Wear is really just a departure of Google Now. I don't think Google was thinking of Apple in any way when creating this product, I think they were just expanding the potential of Google Now. It may actually be better on a wearable than a phone. I don't see how this has anything to do with a product that does not exist yet.

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That video was the first watch promo that made the category look useful. I find the watch format too constrained for active use, but voice commands and Google Now-sized chunks of data pushed to the phone mitigate that, though I am deeply skeptical of this thing's battery life.

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It is a bad title Rene, sorry to say. But this new Android watch actually looks quite good - Google Now is something Apple can't really compete with. However good Siri gets, Google will always have more information and data to pull from due to their massive search presence, maps and gmail - they can win the notification game.

But here's the thing: both this device and the Moto 360 are still focusing on two things that have already been done: time (which has already been perfected by 'real' watches) and notifications (which is already well covered by smart phones). Neither of these concepts has really touched on what I believe the 'iWatch' will actually be - a revolutionary health monitor that also just happens to tell you the time and give you access to your notifications. There is no point to a new device on your wrist unless it can actually do something that you can't do any other way, and that's health monitoring. And that's where we know Apple are going.

Now of course, health monitoring has been done before too, but what the 'iWatch' will likely do is what Apple have done with all their revolutions - take the best work of others, build on and refine it, design it to perfection and present it better than its ever been presented before, to create that 'aha' moment of inevitability - the "Of course it looks like that, of course it works like that, it's so obvious" moment that we look for from Apple. A medical marvel on your wrist.

If Apple uses headlines that relate to time when they eventually launch this product, I'll be very surprised. I think for them, this has very little to do with telling the time and everything to do with health and wellness. I'll be surprised if they call it an 'iWatch' too. Registering that name in various places was likely just a prudent defensive move while they decide what name really fits it best.

Anyway, just my thoughts. We should know soon enough…

Well I'm really not sure, but given the people Apple have been hiring, they clearly do think there's plenty of information to be gathered from a wrist. We'll just have to wait and see.

Well, they clearly do think that there is plenty of information to be gathered, but we don't know from where