Android Wear: what you need to know

June 25, 2014
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Android Wear is here, but is there anything we don’t know about it? The overall aim of Google’s wearable ambitions was laid out months ago, but we did get a few glimpses of some cool new tricks. From hardware to some software interactions, we’ve piked up a few tidbits of info about Android Wear.

Notifications

Google has said time and again a smartwatch shouldn’t be your go-to screen, and Android Wear devices won’t be. They will, however, display things like pop-up notifications. From Hangouts to Google Now reminders, Notifications are the main point to Android Wear.

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Voice

Building the biggest and best voice recognition system isn’t easy, but Google wants to have it. Android Wear will lean on that voice recognition engine quite a bit, too. A small screen is less attractive for typing, so Google is banking on you wanting to talk to your wrist to accomplish things.

The voice recognition software is nice, too. It does a good job of picking up on natural speech, and responds to several different commands. Say “sure” instead of “yes”, and the system will respond. If you’re ever going to talk to a watch, Google’s voice engine is probably the best way to go.

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Sync across devices

So, one of the neatest things shown off on stage was a recipe app that worked with Android Wear. A recipe where steps needed to be followed displayed on the watch, where the user can swipe through the steps. It synced in real time to a phone, suggesting you can use the Android Wear smartwatch as a quick-glance device for more than just notifications. It also recognized a cooking time requirement, and offered to set a reminder for the time it would take to cook the dish.

Another interesting demo was in ordering a pizza, where an API carried over from an app was used to let the user order a pizza. A Lyft ride was also requested, and it even let you pay and review your driver, all from the watch. If anything else, it shows use cases that make sense.

Hardware

So, how can you get an Android Wear device? The LG G Watch is going up for pre-orders today, and the Moto 360 will be available later this Summer. The G Watch is $229.99, and the Moto 360 pricing has yet to be announced. A third player, the Samsung Gear Live, is also coming for Android Wear. It will check in at $199.99, and is available for pre-order today as well.


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