Google's Android Wear mobile operating system is about powering smartwatches, but it also fits neatly into the company's overall smart strategy.
Google's new OS for wearables will also help tie together the company's different ventures, which range from search to robotics, Google Glass and data analytics.
Motorola announced the Moto 360 smartwatch that will run on Android Wear. (Photo: Motorola)
It also means that Google Glass, which is expected to officially ship later this year, is unlikely to be the only wearable computer that the company releases.
The OS will take advantage of Google Now, the company's personal assistant software, to give users weather and traffic information, public alerts and translations.
Users start out by saying, "OK, Google" and then tell the smartwatch or other wearable device to call them a cab, set an alarm or answer a text message. They will also be able to use the smartwatch to check a map, get calendar reminders or to find out how many calories they've burned running to their gate at the airport.
Many of these functions can be done now with a smartphone, but with a wearable, like a smartwatch, users don't have to dig the device out of a pocket or purse. They simply have to check their wrist.
Google announced in a blog post Tuesday that a Developer Preview is ready for download and more APIs and other developer resources will be coming soon.
Google has been touting prototypes of its computerized eyeglasses, Google Glass, and is rumored to be coming out with its own smartwatch in June. It's not clear if Google will develop a family of wearable computers or if it will focus on working with its partners to build their own.
The company noted Tuesday that it's working with several consumer electronics manufacturers, including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung. It's also working with chip makers, including Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm, along with fashion brands like the Fossil Group.
When a company builds a wearable computer, Google wants its software in that device, expanding the Android platform beyond smartphones and laptops. And that right there, fits in with Google's overall strategy.
Widening its reach
Google is known for its search engine and its popular Android smartphone platform. However, Google continues to stretch its reach, by developing autonomous cars, acquiring smart thermostat maker Nest and buying up a bevy of robotics companies, including well-known Boston Dynamics.
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