Google I/O 2014: Android Wear has arrived! Google unveils its new feature-packed OS for wearables

Saqib Shah
June 26, 2014

Google has unveiled more functionalities from its Android Wear OS for selected wearables, including the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live – both of which are currently available to pre-order in the US and UK via the Play Store.

Google also announced that the software development kit (SDK) that will allow developers to integrate it’s Android Wear platform with their own devices and apps is now available to download.

During the I/O event, the company demonstrated a Pinterest app on the OS that could notify users – via an Android Wear smartwatch – when they are near a rest aurant featured in one of their Pins.

Another food-themed demo featured the Allthecooks’ app automatically displaying an entire recipe on a smartwatch when opened in the app. As the user moves through each step in the recipe on the wearable, their phone automatically updates too.

Using an LG G Watch, David Singleton (Director of Engineering for Android) showed off the various practical functions of the OS, including voice commands and touch controls.

His presentation showed that the device has an always-on display that supports notifications via vibrations. Elsewhere, the touchscreen display lets you swipe vertically across it to see notifications from various apps. Swiping horizontally lets you interact with them. You can also swipe them to dismiss or hold them to scroll across different ones.


Returning to voice commands, Singleton displayed how the OS connects with your phone to carry out various tasks.

For example, you can interact with Android Wear by telling it things like “remind me to check my mail when I get home” – it then syncs with your phone to set that reminder. You can also ask it a question (much like Siri) and you’ll get the answer via a google search that takes place via your phone, and is sent to your wrist.

Wear can also show incoming call notifications and allow you to decline calls from the wrist. You can use it to set a do not disturb mode on your phone, so notifications won’t interrupt you at important times. Wear can also interact with other devices – like a sound system.

The platform takes advantage of Google Now to give you relevant contextual information regarding your day – i.e. restaurant reservations, transit schedules, plane tickets – all displayed on your wrist.

Like the Tizen-powered Samsung Gear 2, it comes with built -in fitness trackers that can show health data and count steps.

Additionally, Google claims that because Android notifications APIs let you include various audio-visual features , developers can use the SDK to build the most sophisticated apps for a wearable available today.

Consequently, notifications can either be stacked, or have pages, and users will be able to interact with them meaningfully within seconds.

Google demonstrated this by showing how you can order a pizza and a cab via your smartwatch.

Singleton showed how he’s able to order a Pizza within 20 seconds by repeating a previous order he made on Eat 24. Using the G Watch he showed the app prompting him at the same time of his previous order, offering to repeat it, and even allowing him to pay. This is all done using Play APIs, and all a user has to do is install the Eat 24 app on his or her phone to have that experience on the watch.

He also used an example using the Lyft transport app. Just by walking outside and saying to a watch “Okay Google, call me a car” it can summon a Lyft ride, and even lets the user rate the ride afterwards.

Two Android Wear devices – the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live – are now available to pre-order in the US and UK. The decidedly more attractive Moto 360 smartwatch will be available later this summer.

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About the Author

Saqib Shah

Tech/gaming journalist for What Mobile magazine and website. Interests include film, digital media and foreign affairs.

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