As we wait for the forthcoming deluge of new smartwatches set to be announced and detailed this week, Google is reminding people that its wearable-focused operating system – Android Wear – is a big reason for the current smartwatch craze. A new interview with Android Engineering Director David Singleton and Android Engineering Vice President Hiroshi Lockheimer offers clues about what new changes Google plans on bringing to Android Wear in the next few months.
According to the interview on CNET, Singleton says that Android Wear devices will soon have the ability to work “with some of the other devices you might wear on your body.” For instance, the OS will soon provide the ability to pair Bluetooth headsets with Android Wear smartwatches, which will let users stream music from the watch’s internal storage right to the headset.
Another forthcoming feature is GPS support – provided the smartwatch has the requisite GPS hardware built in. On that particular subject, Singleton explains devices with baked in GPS support and the planned update to Android Wear will be able to track a user’s running or activity data without needing to be synced to a smartphone at the time. The relevant information will be dumped to the handset when the user returns home. That particular feature sounds like a smart way for Google’s Android Wear to compete against Samsung’s recently announced Gear S – a smartwatch with a built-in SIM card, which boasts its lack of dependence on a smartphone, and runs on Tizen.
There’s also work being done on making a watch face API, which we heard about from Google not too long ago. Interestingly, Singleton offered up some unique ideas for different ways third party watch faces could offer users a whole new set of functions:
“For example, if you’re taking a hike, maybe it’s interesting to out the specific distance you’ve traveled right there on the watch face. If you’re someone who cares about a specific stock or specific score of a sports team, maybe you can have a sports team watch face and put their latest score right there on the watch face.”
Singleton says that several of these updates – and presumably others – will be released before the end of the year. “You’ll see one come out [this] week where we’ll be able to improve the navigation experience and some of the voice action experience,” he adds.
Considering that Android Wear has only been available to consumers since July, it’s impressive that so many devices running on the platform will launch soon. Will any of them hit it big with consumers the way that the smartphone version of Android has? It seems like only a matter of time.