'OK, Google,' make smartwatches work

The Moto 360 (Motorola)

The Moto 360 (Motorola)

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, Last Updated: 12:48 PM ET

The release of the first official details regarding the company's new wearable technology software platform and the first smartwatches to use it is generating a lot of excitement in the high-tech community. But is it a case of yet another innovation for geeks alone or could Android Wear be the key to making smartwatches, cool, functional and above all wearable for everyone?

Android Wear is a special version of Google's open-source operating system, so it should be familiar to over 1 billion people who already happen to own a phone running Android; however this version has been developed specifically for wearable technology devices beginning with smartwatches.

Smartwatches have been generating a lot of press interest and have led a number of research firms to publish more and more positive forecasts as to the potential for future demand.

However, if the current crop of smartwatches is anything to go by, that future is a long way off. The smartwatches of 2013-2014 are clunky, low on performance and heavy on battery use. And, with the notable exception of the Pebble Steel, largely lacking in style.

Google believes it has the smarts to solve all of these problems, and, from a stylistic perspective alone, if the first two watches to use the technology -- the Motorola Moto 360 and the LG G Watch -- are anything to go by, things are on the right track. Both devices look like something a watch wearer would actually want to adorn his or her wrist, as they are focused on fashion and function.

And in terms of function, it's going to be all about context and activating a device via motion or voice. Just say "OK Google," and ask a question for the watch to provide a direct answer, whether it's the results of the big game, the number of calories in a meal or the time a flight is scheduled to take off. Voice will also trigger functions such as hailing cabs or dictating a text message.

But perhaps the killer app, and the thing that will make Android Wear devices attractive to the masses is the use of Google Now, Google's contextual understanding and search service that uses location, user preferences and information from emails and schedules to 'push' information to the user. This could mean displaying a virtual boarding pass on the screen as the user approaches a departure gate or providing the weather forecast for a holiday destination. Or it could simply be pertinent historical facts about a person's immediate surroundings.

That's what Google is promising and to find out how well Android Wear delivers, there won't be long to wait. The Moto 360 is launching this summer and will be followed by the LG G Watch as well as devices from Asus, HTC and Fossil too.

Now all that's left is for Apple to launch an "iWatch" and the smartwatch age has officially started.


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