Android Wear is Google’s new platform for wearables, and right now this seems to be limited to smartwatches for the time being. What’s great about Android Wear is that it’s not a stand alone platform with its own app store and needed set of development tools, rather it integrates deeply into Android and the apps that run on Android to bring smart notifications directly to your wrist. Google talked a lot about Android Wear today at Google I/O 2014, and one of the best parts about the whole experience was finally showing off all the cool things you can do with Android Wear on stage. First off Android Wear interacts with your apps, it doesn’t store them, so apps that have Android Wear support automatically work with your Android Wear smartwatch without you having to do anything at all. Once your watch is paired with your phone you’re good to go and can enjoy all the enhancements smart notifications brings you.
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What exactly is different about these notifications vs ones you get on current generation smartwatches? First off they are all actionable and actually interact with your phone in ways that most smartwatches can’t do. This means not only phone calls and music control like many smartwatches already offer, but deeper experiences like navigation and complete Google Now integration. Since your phone is actually running the software and just relaying information to your smartwatch you don’t have to worry about battery life or connectivity to cell towers, that’s all handeled by the phone instead. When you receive a notification like a text message or phone call you can dismiss the notification on your Android Wear powered smartwatch and it’ll dismiss the notification on the phone too, something many smartwatches tend to ignore.
Google Now integration means things like location and time based reminders, smart tracking of all your daily statistics including walking steps, packages that are being mailed to you, travel times to common destinations, emails and everything else that’s important to you. If you use it in Google Now you can use it on Android Wear, and this is only the beginning. Notifications take a richer step in Android Wear and now are usable like pages of a book. Swipe down to the Google Play Music notification and you can swipe left or right to bring up other context-sensitive notifications related to Google Play Music like pause/play, forward, backward, etc. Each notification is its own little book with pages to swipe between. Developers will be able to build even more functionality into their apps too, and the possibilities are seemingly endless with what you can do here. We’re super excited to get our hands on an Android Wear smartwatch, which will be available later today, and to see how those new notifications in Android L play with Android Wear as well.