For those of us that are excited about smartwatches, this week was an important week, thanks to the announcement of Android Wear. Basically an extension of Google’s platform for wearable tech, Android Wear will be strapping to our wrists this summer. The question a lot of us were wondering this week was, why we should care? Well, that’s a lot of reasons we should all be interested, excited even, about Android Wear. However, one of the biggest reasons stands out for me, and that’s choice. As a watch wearer pretty much all of my adult life, a smartwatch was the logical next step. I reviewed, and own, Sony’s SmartWatch 2 and I love it. It’s changed the way I approach notifications and I think Sony’s implementation is good, albeit lacking in a few areas. I’m a Nexus 5 owner, so a “Google Watch” sounds perfect to me, the software looks good and the Moto 360 in particular looks stunning. However, you shouldn’t care about all that more than you should care about choice.
I think we can all agree that one of the biggest strengths Google created by backing Android so vigorously is choice. It doesn’t matter whether you have a Samsung, Sony, HTC, Alcatel, Xiaomi, LG or whatever else, as long as it runs Android we essentially all sit at the same table. We help ourselves to the same bowl of apps, games and online services and yet we still get all the choice in the world. Apple can say what they want about the iPhone, but being able to choose a phone with a 4.3-inch display, or a massive 6-inch display is great, and frankly that’s how smartphones should be. We can choose whatever PC we want, so why can’t we do the same with our phones? This is the same sort of thing Google is bringing to smartwatches, and that’s great.
With hardware names like ASUS, LG, HTC and Motorola involved with the likes of watch giant Fossil, this summer is going to be a turning point for smartwatches. The problem up until now is that there’s really only been three viable options; the Pebble, Samsung’s Gear and Sony’s SmartWatch 2 and one of those options works with but a handful of Android devices available. Android Wear however, will work with anything running Android 4.3 and above, again widening the net. A strong ecosystem like Android, with a great SDK, offers consumers like us the ability to choose what we want with confidence. As long as Android Wear lives up to the hype, and proves to be genuinely useful, then there should be no backing the wrong horse this summer. I could buy a Moto 360 while my buddy could get an HTC watch and yet we’ll each have similar software experiences. Which is both great for developers as well as brand awareness.
I like the way my SmartWatch 2 looks as it reminds me of an iconic Braun watch, but it’s not for everyone. Unfortunately though, it’s either this design or the highway, but with Android Wear we’ll have more options to get a smartwatch, just like we would shopping for a “regular” time piece. I’m excited to see what the software holds and how it’ll fit in with my life, but I’m more excited – and happy – to be able to choose a watch that I like, without having to deal with the pitfalls of “picking sides”.