When Google announced Android Wear just a few weeks ago, the idea of having a proper Google developed operating system just for wearables gave many geeks visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. While we wait for the proverbial Santa Claus to deliver the first smartwatch featuring Google’s newest mobile OS, we’ve still got plenty to learn about the ins and outs of just how this brand new OS works. One of the most prominent features of the Android Wear demo that was shown off were the smart, glanceable notifications presented on a whim and whenever you needed them. Google has stressed the importance of not spending more than a single glance to get the information you need off the smartwatch, and that’s one of the biggest design features going forward with any wearable based on Android Wear. What we didn’t know was just how restrictive Google wants to make this endeavor.
Speaking in a Q&A session on the Mashable Ask A Dev show, Android Engineer Sagar Seth was asked the question “What does a developer need to know for Android Wear?” While this is an incredibly open-ended question Sagar answered very promptly in about 2 minutes, covering everything from what needs to be downloaded and included in any developer’s program to how to design for an Android Wear device. Specifically Sagar said that Android Wear is for notifications, not full-fledged apps. This revelation is likely to surprise quite a few, as we’d seen Google Now prominently running on the smartwatches shown off at the Android Wear unveiling, and the assumption was the this was just the tip of what we were going to see on the Android Wear platform. Unlike Google Glass it seems like Android Wear won’t be getting its own app store, or at least that’s something pretty simple that can be taken away from this sort of thing, rather apps will be built with Android Wear notification functionality and interaction, making the wearable an extension of the phone or tablet that the app actually resides on. This ensures that information is “glanceable” as Sagar and Google call it, and provides the most simple interactive experience possible. Sagar continues to stress simplicity in design, not just visually but functionally as well. What this means in actual app output we’ll not know for a little while now when the actual devices get some hands-on time and more development behind them, but it seems that the scope is intended to be limited to helping interact with your phone or tablet in new and different ways rather than replacing them as some have suggested would happen.