Google wants to get Android wearable computing devices into the lives of more consumers and is launching a new "Android Wear" effort to help make it happen, starting with new developer tools to build smartwatches.
The new initiative was announced today by Sundar Pichai, the head of Google's Android, Chrome and Apps divisions, in a post on the Google Official Blog.
"Most of us are rarely without our smartphones in hand," wrote Pichai. "These powerful supercomputers keep us connected to the world and the people we love. But we're only at the beginning; we've 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," he continued.
To expand those possibilities today, Google's new Android Wear project, which will provide new application-building tools and technologies for developers, will begin by promoting new possibilities for smartwatches, he wrote.
For developers, Google Android has added a new section on developer.android.com/wear, which is focused on wearable device development, wrote Pichai. "Starting today, you can download a Developer Preview so you can tailor your existing app notifications for watches powered by Android Wear. Because Android for wearables works with Android's rich notification system, many apps will already work well."
More wearables-aimed developer resources and APIs will be coming soon on the site, he wrote.
And to make it happen more successfully, Google and Android are "already working with several consumer electronics manufacturers, including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung; chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm; and fashion brands like the Fossil Group to bring you watches powered by Android Wear later this year," wrote Pichai.
By starting the promotion of Android Wearables using watches initially, Google and Android will be working with a fashion accessory that is already accepted and widely used by consumers, but is still ripe for further new development and capabilities, he wrote.
Smartwatches will go "well beyond the mere act of just telling you the time," he wrote. "Android Wear shows you info and suggestions you need, right when you need them. The wide variety of Android applications means you'll receive the latest posts and updates from your favorite social apps, chats from your preferred messaging apps, notifications from shopping, news and photography apps, and more."
Users will also be able to gain capabilities with smartwatches, such as saying "OK Google" to ask questions about just about any topic to get an answer, he wrote. Users will also be able to better monitor their exercise regimens with distance measurements, timing and detailed summaries, as well as use their Android Wear-enabled devices to access and control other devices from their wrists. "Just say 'OK Google' to fire up a music playlist on your phone, or cast your favorite movie to your TV," wrote Pichai. "There's a lot of possibilities here, so we're eager to see what developers build."