Microsoft is dipping its toes into wearables again by releasing a OneNote companion app for smartwatches powered by Android Wear.
The free OneNote for Android Wear app, published to the Google Play store on Sept. 16, may be fairly low-key in functionality, but it's a big sign that Microsoft doesn't plan to get left out of the burgeoning wearable smart device market years after an early attempt fizzled. The app allows Android Wear watch owners to dictate notes and view them on the OneNote Android app.
OneNote, formerly an Office application, has grown into a full-fledged stand-alone note-taking and content-capturing platform to rival mobile-friendly apps like Evernote. The software is available for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows. Content added to OneNote can be stored and synced across devices using Microsoft's own OneDrive cloud storage service.
OneNote for Android Wear isn't Microsoft's first stab at wearable technology.
Over a decade ago, the company made headlines for releasing its SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) Watch technology. In 2012, low demand prompted Microsoft to shutter the FM-radio based MSN Direct service, which provided data services to SPOT owners. SPOT would go on to rank as one of the company's most fabled flops alongside Microsoft TV, Bob and Windows ME.
As the app's name suggests, OneNote for Android Wear supports an Android Wear watch from the likes of LG, Samsung and Motorola. It also requires an Android smartphone that runs Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) or above.
Google's Android Wear project extends several of Android's hallmark features, including the Google Now digital assistant technology, to wearable devices.
It was first announced March 18, and Sundar Pichai, head of Android, Chrome and Apps at Google, said in a statement at the time that smartphones have "barely scratched the surface of what's possible with mobile technology. That's why we're so excited about wearables—they understand the context of the world around you, and you can interact with them simply and efficiently, with just a glance or a spoken word."
Apple and Salesforce Hop on Wearables Bandwagon
Google isn't the only tech giant that's bullish on wearables.
On Sept. 9, Apple CEO Tim Cook finally unveiled the company's long-awaited Apple Watch during a press event that included the launch of the iPhone 6 and the equally anticipated the iPhone 6 Plus phablet. "Apple Watch is the most personal device we've ever created," said Cook.
The smartwatch is due to ship next year in a variety of sizes and versions, including a premium 18K gold Apple Watch Edition. Like its Android Wear counterparts, Apple Watch requires that its users tether the device to a smartphone, an iPhone (from iPhone 5 to 6 Plus) in this case. Prices start at $349.
Cloud CRM specialist Salesforce.com sees a role for wearable computing in the enterprise.
On June 10, the company announced a developer initiative called Salesforce Wear that enables developers to create apps that link to the company's popular cloud platform. Partners include ARM, Fitbit, Google Glass, Pebble, Philips and Samsung.
In a statement at the time, Daniel Debow, senior vice president of emerging technologies at Salesforce.com, described wearables as "the next phase of the mobile revolution." He said, "With Salesforce Wear, companies can now capture the massive opportunity these devices offer to connect with customers in new ways."
Earlier this year, IDC forecast that shipments of wearables—a device category that includes smartwatches, fitness bands and smart glasses—will exceed 19 million units this year, or more than three times the volume vendors achieved in 2013. By 2018, that figure is expected to reach 111.9 million units worldwide.