It’s still unclear whether the smart watch market will grow into the massive consumer segment that tech manufacturers are hoping, but with the smartphone and tablet markets now beginning to saturate in developed markets it’s clear that some sort of wearable computing is likely to be the next large tech growth industry.
For the time-being fitness bands connected to mobile apps are leading the wearables category. Brands such as NIKE and Jawbone are leading the industry – not traditional computing brands.
With so many new and different applications coming to wearables, Google has recently announced that it will release a version of Android specifically tuned to the needs of wearable devices.
Google is calling the operating system Android Wear. The software is now being offered in a developer preview that includes features such as voice to text, expanded notifications, and stacked notifications.
According to Google, the OS will automatically surface relevant information based on app preferences and other factors. Android Wear also has the “Ok Google” functionality found in the smartphone version of Android and on Google Glass. Using the command, Google hopes consumers will be able to use their smart watches to control everything from their smartphone to their TV.
The basic ideas are previewed in a new hipster-heavy teaser ad released last week by Google:
Android Wear could end up being one of the most important initiatives that Google has produced since the introduction of Android itself. Though the latest version of Android is optimized to run on lower-end smartphones, manufacturers are beginning to leave Google services out of their Android builds in favor of their own software.
Mobile ad revenue is set to hit $18 billion this year and Google is striving to keep itself at the center of a rapidly-shifting online advertising industry. Whether or not wearables truly take off in the same way tablets have, Google will have to have to make sure it has a strong foothold in the segment, just in case.