Google today released a software development kit (SDK) for Android Wear, a version of Google’s Android OS developed for smartwatches and other wearables.
Motorola has announced to release a smartwatch powered by SDK, the Moto 360, which will go on sale this summer.
Today we’re announcing Android Wear, a project that extends Android to wearables. And we’re starting with the most familiar wearable—watches,” Chrome chief Sundar Pichai said in a blog post.
Android ADK is first likely to land on LG Watch, a device which is scheduled to be released the third quarter of the year.
According to Google, Android SDK showcases key features of the Android UI extension, including always-on voice commands that respond to “Ok Google.”
Motorola has announced to release a smartwatch powered by SDK, the Moto 360
Analysts have already begun to speculate whether Android’s arrival on smart devices will lead to “fragmentation” issues like those which have affected smartphones.
“All the devices will be different with varying screen sizes, hardware, and sensors,” noted Richard Windsor, who runs the RadioFreeMobile consultancy. “I suspect most [hardware makers] will use their own code,” said Pichai.
“We’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with mobile technology”, but that the advantage of wearables is that “they understand the context of the world around you, and you can interact with them simply and efficiently, with just a glance or a spoken word”.
However, Samsung also has designs on wearables which it is promoting through its Tizen software. At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, it showed off two models of its Galaxy Gear 2 smartwatch, which unlike last year’s first version runs its own Tizen software, rather than Android.
Samsung launched its own SDK for Tizen for the Gear smartwatches last weekend, pointing to partnerships with a number of providers for email, music, fitness and health tracking.
“I hope Android Wear application development doesn’t multiply the fragmentation issues Google is already battling with Android,” Neil Shah of Counterpoint Research said.
According to Windsor, Samsung’s move “will make fragmentation much worse than it already is and I am far from convinced that this issue is something that Google can cope with. Android is not an ecosystem. Android is an operating system upon which one can build an ecosystem.”