Yesterday, the makers of our favorite search engine announced a "project that extends Android to wearables." It's called Android Wear and promises to take pertinent information and provide it to users when they need it most. We're talking mostly about smart "watches," but wearable computing can encompass more than that.
The idea of wearing technology that helps you "compute" is an old one, and it goes back hundreds of years. (See Wearable Computer on Wikipedia.) Back in 1965, the television show Get Smart featured a variety of wearable devices, including the famous shoe telephone. In the 1980's these gadgets left the television screen and began making their way into the mainstream as calculator watches.
In recent years, products like the fitbit, a super-powered
pedometer activity tracker that records more than just steps, and the Nike Fuelband, which does something similar, have socialized the idea of the Quantified Self, "a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person's daily life." These gadgets can tell you how many calories you've burned, what your average heart rate is, or even how well you slept this month compared to last.
What is Google Doing?
The company has taken what it learned from Google Glass and Google Now and combined them into what you see with Android Wear. For those who don't know, Glass is a pair of voice-controlled glasses that present a visual heads-up display of useful info within a wearer's field of vision. And Google Now is an alert system that presents relevant, contextual information "at just the right time." To get a better understanding of what Android Wear is all about, "watch" the video at the end of this post, visit the Android Wear page, or Google's blog to learn more.
Is it Available Now?
Yes, and no.
Yes, the software development kit (SDK) is available for download. Programmers can try their hands at updating any of their existing apps, or creating new ones, to take advantage of what Wear provides. The SDK includes a simulator so they can see how their programs work within the new dev environment.
And, no. At present, there aren't any Wear devices anywhere. But, that should change soon. The watch featured in the conceptual video is none other than the Moto 360. Google is "working with several partners to bring you watches powered by Android Wear later this year."
Remember, you heard it here first: Yesterday was when Google announced Wear.