Android Wear: The future of wearable devices
With summer just around the corner, the tech world is abuzz with anticipation, especially the fans of smart watches. June heralds the arrival of the first generation of Android Wear smart watches, in the form of the Moto 360 and LG G Watch. Android Wear is the first operating system made specifically for wearable devices to interact with your other Android devices, chiefly smartphones. As announced on Android’s official blog, Android Wear was created with several key targets in mind; delivering useful information efficiently, improved ability to monitor health and fitness as well as integration within the Android ecosystem.
No doubt, the concept of a tailor-made OS for wearables to achieve all these targets is tantalizing indeed. However, Android developers have been rather silent on the details of Wear ever since announcement. Today, we are finally able to get a glimpse of what’s in store for us when the devices hit the shelves.
Android Developers were charitable enough to give us a first look at their favorite notifications on Android Wear by sharing screenshots of them on Google+ via Timothy Jordan, a Senior Developer Advocate.
The notification interface on Android Wear is simplistic, with the information displayed concisely. It resembles the cards concept employed by Google Now, with the icon of the app associated to the notification displayed at the top right hand corner. Each notification card will occupy the lower half of the screen, leaving space for the homescreen and presumably the clock on the upper half. The images shows notifications from Google’s own Calendar app as well as third party apps such as Nest and Clash of Clans. Right off the bat, we see integration between the various apps, especially third party apps, that could be on our smartphones now with Android Wear itself.
These images also display the range of information that can be made available to us; from important meetings to attend or just a game notification. What we hope for now is for some way to streamline the information that gets onto our smart watches. It would not be ideal if we have game notifications popping up every now and again that it may cause us to lose track of other more important information.
The interface for podcast apps such as Pocket Casts is slightly different.
Instead of the cards design, we see an interface that closely resembles a media player, with the logo of the podcast listened to as the background image. What this tells us is that there is some degree of variety to the type of interfaces that we will be seeing on Android Wear, which will keep things interesting for us. We of course hope to see more unique interfaces for media apps such as Spotify.
One major concern when introducing Android Wear is of course compatibility issues with current apps. According to Jordan, most Android apps should not have any problem displaying notifications on Android Wear devices out of the box. However, he did state the developers can increase functionality such as the addition of extra cards, voice replies and the stacking of multiple notifications simply by adding an extra few lines of code. The key here is simplicity as Google would not want to force developers to alter or add codes just to make these apps work on Android Wear. In fact, Google seems to be encouraging developers to somewhat customize the notifications for their respective apps without much hassle.
Our first glance at Android Wear shows some promising signs to what may be the start of the wearable device wave. We have seen a good blend of aesthetics as well as functionality in the handling of notifications by this OS. What we hope to see in the future is of course test runs on a variety of other apps and of course, what unique features may be incorporated into current apps that can be accessed through an Android Wear device.
More importantly, we are keen to see how will the success or failure of Android Wear affect the wearable device market? Will other OEM be inspired to try their at a wearable OS like Samsung has with Tizen? Or will they be willing to accept Android Wear as a staple of the market? We will just have to wait and see.