Android L may have been the biggest focus of tonight’s I/O keynote address, but we were excited to hear some hard details about Android Wear and the first devices—and Google didn't disappoint.
LG's G Watch (above) will launch for US$229 (S$286) on 2 July, while Samsung’s newly-announced Gear Live watch (below) will be available on 7 July for US$199.99 (S$250). Both can be pre-ordered from the Google Play Store.
The Gear Live features a 1.63in, 320x320 Super AMOLED display and is available in Black and Wine Red, with each packing a 1.2 Ghz processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB of internal storage, and a 300mAh battery. LG says its G Watch (in White Gold and Black Titan styles) has a 1.65in LCD IPS display running at 280x280, with a Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB of storage, and a 400mAh battery.
Meanwhile, Motorola’s Moto 360—which is the first Android Wear device to feature a rounded screen, and the one that’s seemingly drawn the most enthusiasm to date—is expected a bit later this summer.
In addition to talking about the initial hardware, Google gave a lengthy demonstration of all that the watches are able to do. Essentially, Android Wear devices are designed to show you the information you need at the moments you need it, delivering contextual cards with notifications from apps on a paired device running Android 4.3 or higher.
The watch screen stays on at all times in a black and white mode, and then to full color when lifted or tapped. You can just speak commands into the phone (starting with “OK Google”) to search, pull up apps, answer text messages, and more. Swiping up and down scrolls you through the cards, and you can go left and right as needed when an app allows multiple displays.
Android Wear devices also have fitness functionality, as expected, with apps able to use a built-in sensor to read your heart rate, plus they’ll log your steps throughout the day. When an Android Wear watch is synced to a device, it’ll automatically install the Wear portion of any downloaded apps and keep them up to date.
All told, the UI seems strongly focused on simplicity and being a good companion to your phone, rather than try to duplicate all functionality.
The full Android Wear SDK is available today for third-party app makers, and the keynote offered a look at some of the possibilities. For example, food-delivery app Eat24 will offer contextual alerts around the time you usually order meals, and then allow you to quickly reorder past selections within mere seconds. And private car company Lyft can get you a ride by saying little more than “OK Google, call me a car.”
We’ll surely see a much wider array of exciting implementations in the coming weeks as Android Wear devices begin launching early next month.