There’s a new report that Motorola is bringing its brand new Moto 360 into China. That wouldn’t be striking news for any other country, but this is actually the first device using Android Wear that will be available in China, despite the wearable platform being over a year old. Here’s a little background story: China is becoming one of the most important markets, actually, there are a lot of Chinese manufacturers that are making Android products that are innovative and well-designed altogether, let’s not forget that Lenovo (a Chinese company) owns Motorola now. The difference with the ones from the rest of the world is that there have not been any Google services like the Play Store or Google Now in that particular country since 2010, when they were removed over security and censorship concerns. While moving some apps into the Play Store gives the operating system a little more consistency, it makes it hard for some apps to get updated.
Android has always been open source, allowing anyone to modify it, but Android Wear was created differently, it has been locked down so that any smartwatch that uses it looks and works more or less the same. Even if manufacturers are able to upload their apps freely into these devices, they can’t customize the looks of the platform as much as the one used in smartphones. The reason that they created it like this seems to be that it’s still a very new platform, so if a radical change that makes it work better comes, they want to be able to update it as fast as they can.
So how will the Moto 360 work without these seemingly essential services? Well, Motorola has partnered with the Chinese company Mobvoi to handle voice recognition to dictate messages, search and other actions instead of relying on Google Now’s service. Instead of saying “OK Google” and start speaking to the smartwatch, Chinese users will say “Ni hao Android”, which translates as “Hello Android” to trigger that functionality. Sogou, another Chinese company will take care of localization services and map services and the apps will be handled by third-party app stores, where Chinese developers will be able to upload their apps.
The future of the Google services in China is still uncertain, but the company must certainly be interested in bringing at least the Play Store into that country, seeing how Apple’s app store has been very successful. They would have to modify some aspects, but eventually those services could return into this country. Otherwise, some companies might look into other solutions like creating their own operating systems, at least for wearable devices, in order to sell them in that rapidly growing market.