Google smartwatches – why you should believe the hype



Google’s Android Wear platform is redefining the smartwatch as as fashion-focused, voice-activated, fitness friendly gadget - read on for the full story...

Smartwatches have been around for a while now without really going mainstream.

But now Google's Android Wear platform is redefining the smartwatch - taking it beyond mere phone extension by helping us with fitness, fashion, finding out the time of our flight and not forgetting the milk.

What is a smartwatch?

A smartwatch is a tiny computer you wear on your wrist. It hooks up to your smartphone and shows your messages, and allows you to answer and make calls.

They have so far been made by Samsung, Pebble, Sony and others, while analyst Canalys expects five million smartwatches to be sold in 2014.

What is Android Wear?

LG G Watch Android Wear Logo

Android Wear is a new version of the Google Android operating system designed specifically to run on wearable devices. Ina post on the Android blog Google says it will initially concentrate on smartwatches, and is working with firms including LG, Motorola and Samsung on Android Wear devices.

Will Findlater, global online editor at Stuff, said Google's Android Wear platform "appears to have turned an important corner" in the development of the smartwatch.

Why we love Android Wear - it's making smartwatches stylish

LG G Watch Android Wear New

(LG G Watch, credit: LG)

Will at Stuff said until now smartwatches have looked "a bit geeky". In a Stuff blog he suggests the fact "watches are jewellery" that we "wear because we like the look of them" is why the smartwatch is yet to really take off.

With Android Wear we can expect smartwatches of all shapes, styles and sizes made by various manufacturers that run on the same Google OS. The two Android Wear watches launched so far, the LG G Watch and Moto 360 are completely different.

Moto 360 Cafe

(Moto 360, Credit: Motorola)


Will said: "Android Wear is a platform that manufacturers can take and use in any number of different designs. Given that watches are primarily used as jewellery, variety and aesthetic appeal will be crucial to the success of smartwatches."

Why we love Android Wear - it reminds us to buy the milk

Milk

In a post on the Google Blog Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps, said Android Wear "shows you info and suggestions you need, right when you need them".

He said we'll be kept up to date with the latest posts and updates from our favourite social apps, chats from preferred messaging apps, and notifications about shopping, news and more.

Will at Stuff said: "Wear-based smartwatches will provide contextually relevant information when it's needed - reminders to buy the milk when you're next to a Sainsbury's, or as Google's aspirational video shows, jellyfish warnings when the wearer's about to hit the beach."

Why we love Android Wear - it tells us when our flight leaves

Plane Taking Off

Thanks to Google Now-style voice recognition technology you can ask your Android Wear smartwatch a question and it'll give you the answer.

"Just say 'Ok Google' to ask questions, like how many calories are in an avocado, what time your flight leaves, and the score of the game," reads the Google blog.

But it's not limited to questions, it also works with requests. So when you want to flag a cab, book a restaurant or send a text - all you have to do is ask.

Why we love Android Wear - it's helping us get fit

Samsung already kicked off the smartwatch-as-a-fitness-tracker trend at Mobile World Congress with its new Galaxy Gear 2 device.

Samsung's Gear 2 synchronises with your Galaxy smartphone to track steps taken and calories burned.

Now Google joins the party with Android Wear features designed to give the "ability to monitor your health and fitness".

A Google Blog post said: "Your favourite fitness apps can give you real-time speed, distance and time information on your wrist for your run, cycle or walk."

Will you be queuing up to buy a smartwatch? Have you already got one? Comment below...