Smartwatch OS Android Wear Headlining Google I/O Conference
This Wednesday, June 25th, marks the start of Google’s annual I/O developer conference. Back in May, Google announced Android Wear, a new operating system for smartwatches. Google is expected to use the I/O conference as a platform to release new details about Android Wear, and some big names will debut devices that run on Google’s new operating system.
Here’s what we already know: Google is working with many electronics manufacturers, including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Intel, and Qualcomm, to establish a line of devices that run on Android Wear.
The controls will be more voice-recognition-based than touchscreen-based. Like with previous Android devices, speaking “OK Google” into the device will ready the device for responding to a variety of voice commands.
Google also takes advantage of the exercise-related benefits of wearable devices. Users of Android Wear will be able to monitor their health with fitness goals and summaries.
At the I/O conference, we’ll get a look at Samsung’s first device that uses Android Wear. Samsung is working on two smartwatches that run on Android Wear: one that uses their own processers, and another that uses chips made by Qualcomm. It is unclear which of these two devices Samsung plans on debuting at the I/O conference.
Samsung will hope this device fares better than the disaster that was the Galaxy Gear, which was met with universally negative tech critic reviews and over 30% of Gears sold at Best Buy were returned by unsatisfied customers.
Reports have surfaced that LG and Motorola may also unveil smartwatches of their own that run on Android Wear at the conference.
The growth rate of smartphone and tablet markets is beginning to dwindle. The wearable devices market, however, is exploding. In 2013, 6 million wearable devices were shipped worldwide. In 2014, the number of worldwide shipments is expected to reach 19 million, a threefold increase in just one year. By 2018, this figure will reach 112 million.
Even though the wearable market is growing at a higher rate, it is important to remember their sales and shipments are still dwarfed by smartphones, which are expected to sell 1.8 billion units in 2018.
Not to be one to miss riding a passing trend, Google’s perennial competitor Apple will throw its hat into the wearable devices ring in October with the debut of their smartwatch, the iWatch. Apple boasts that this device will feature advanced biometrics for exercise and a 4 – 5 day battery life. And if Apple’s previous products are any indication, it is sure to be stylish.
Considering the sustaining success of the iPod, Apple seems to have the upper hand over Google in the realm of smartwatches. To Google’s advantage: by debuting Android Wear-run devices this June, they will get at least a small, 3 month head start over Apple. We will have to wait until Wednesday to see if Google and associates can make the most of this slight and temporary advantage.