We knew that Google was cooking up a version of Android designed specifically for wearables, and today the company followed through. Android Wear is a Google Now-centric platform for smartwatches – and, eventually, other wearables as well.
Android Wear delivers what many folks have been waiting for before investing in a smartwatch. It's contextual Google Now information combined with almost-instant Google voice commands.
So, much like Google Now for smartphones, it will give you info like traffic for your commute, sports scores, and any upcoming meetings you have. And like the Moto X and the Google Now launcher on the Nexus 5, you'll also be able to trigger voice commands without even touching your device. Just say "OK Google" and Google Wear-powered watches will instantly start listening for your command. That could mean sending or replying to a text, searching Google for a good restaurant, or something like scheduling a meeting.
Android Wear's default screen is basically a scaled-down version of the Google Now we already know from smartphones. You're greeted with the time and weather, but a quick swipe or two can show you things like the detailed forecast or your meetings for the day. Non-Wear-powered watches, like the Galaxy Gear, do some of those things, but Google's platform looks like it combines them in a seamless manner that we haven't seen before.
Obviously a wearable-focused version of Google Now is the killer feature here, but Google is also opening up Android Wear to third-party developers, who will be able to tie Android Wear functionality to their smartphone apps. So, for example, a fitness app you're running on your Nexus 5 might send a glanceable second-screen version of itself to your Android Wear-powered watch. Look at the smartphone version for the nitty-gritty details, but get quick access to things like your distance and step count on your watch. That's just one simple possibility, but as is always the case with new SDKs, we might not really know what's in store until developers' imaginations have at it.
LG and Motorola have already announced watches running Android Wear, and Google says that it's working with HTC, Asus, and Samsung on Wear devices. A Wear Developer Preview is available starting today. And be sure to check out Google's video below for a clearer look at what Android Wear has to offer.