Smartwatch fans rejoice! The first watches to run Google's Android Wear platform will be available to order today via the Google Play store. The tech giant showed off the LG G Watch and debuted the Samsung Gear Live today (Jun. 25) at its I/O developers' conference, showcasing some neat software features on both watches. LG's device will sell for $229 while Samsung's will cost $199.
The round-faced Moto 360 is to follow later this summer, with no price announced yet.
Android Wear was previewed earlier this year and released to developers, enabling them to start working on apps for Wear-powered watches. David Singleton, director of engineering for Android, showed off the seamless activity between paired Android phones and smartwatches on the I/O stage. In one demo, he started a recipe on the Allthecooks app on his phone, and the same recipe showed up on the face of his watch.
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As he followed the steps on the paired smartwatch, the phone app jumped along to sync each step with the watch. The app was also clearly designed for a watch face, with a less cluttered interface and card-based layout that Google is rolling out across its various platforms.
Singleton (and his demo partner Jeff Chang) also used apps such as Lyft and Eat24 to book a ride and order a pizza, respectively, all from Chang's wrist. You can also use Android Wear devices to control the just-announced Android TV platform.
We also got a more detailed look at how Android Wear works. You'll swipe up and down on the face to go through cards (or apps) such as Weather, Maps or Messages. When you see a page indicator (row of dots at bottom), swipe left or right to see more. You can also pull up QR codes or your boarding pass on your watch for easy access, and change watch face designs by pressing and holding the screen.
The devices will use sensors such as GPS and Bluetooth device connections to send you contextually aware alerts, such as a reminder to check your mail when you get home. A downward swipe on the face triggers a Do Not Disturb mode to mute the smartwatch.
We also briefly caught a glimpse of a heart rate monitoring feature on the demo unit of the G Watch, which could mean that the LG device might pack a heart rate monitor and double as a fitness tracker.
Google made the full Android Wear SDK available to developers today, so they can start creating apps for the system. Those who use Android devices with their smartwatches will find that apps on the phone are automatically updated and synced to their watches, thanks to a wearables section in the backend.
All three devices announced today are water-resistant, said Singleton, so you won't have to worry about wearing them out in the rain or while washing your hands. The Moto 360 will be the first watch to use Android Wear's round UI.
We can't wait to get these devices around our wrists to see how they stack up against existing smartwatch leaders like the Pebble Steel and Samsung Gear Fit. Google rival Apple is also expected to announce its rumored iWatch later this year, so it's clear the wearable space is almost ready to hit the mainstream.
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This is like a diamond necklace in the ghetto, but for middle class people.
Stupid, stupid concept.
That said, I find smart watches to be overrated and completely unnecessary.
While it is interesting to explore new areas for tech, an expensive, tiny screen with short battery life and limited usability does not seem to be the future for rational users.