Google Launches Android Wear OS for Smartwatches

Alex Spencer

Android WearGoogle has launched the developer preview of Android Wear, a version of its OS designed specifically for wearable devices.

The OS enables users to control wearable devices with voice commands, and receive notifications from paired smartphones - which is nothing especially new, but Google is hoping "to bring a common user experience and a consistent developer platform to this new generation of devices," according to Google's announcement.

The release was first hinted at last week by Google SVP Sundar Pichai. At the time, he seemed to be stressing that the OS wasn't just for smartwatches; currently, though, it appears that this where Android Wear's focus will lie.

Moto 360
Motorola - which was part of Google until its recent sale to Lenovo - unveiled the first watch to run on Wear, the Moto 360. Unlike most smartwatches we've seen previously, the 360 has a circular screen. Similar to the Moto X, it can be activated by the user rotating their wrist or speaking the "OK Google..." command. The device is set to go on sale this summer.

Google has also signed up Asus, HTC, Motorola and Samsung - which notably eschewed Android for its latest Galaxy Gear watches - as hardware partners. Fashion brand Fossil Group has also committed to releasing smartwatches powered by Wear later this year.

The Developer Preview also features Android Wear APIs for customising and extending notifications to accept voice replies, feature additional pages, and stack with similar notifications, and enables developers to view an emulator to preview how notifications will appear on both square and round wearable screens

Google promises it will be launching more APIs and new features for Android Wear over the coming months.

You can watch the announcement video for Android Wear below.