Devs Rush to Android Wear

android-wear-970x0At first, I thought that Samsung’s ad for the introduction of Galaxy Gear – featuring a sleek and nostalgic montage of Sci-fi smartwatches – was a brilliant piece of marketing…for a product that wouldn’t go very far. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The trend has continued to grow and now the titan of tech (Google) is introducing its first wearable tech: Android Wear.

Developers are taking part in a mad dash to get their apps ready for the new Android platform. Voice control will be a main feature in apps and services that are offered on the Android Wear, because typing with one hand on your other wrist is less than ideal. Quick relevant information, short updates, quick messages and of course Google searches will now be as accessible as a quick glance to your wrist.

The Good –Well to put it simply, it is Google and Android. Developers for wearable tech will now be able to use a software development kit that is connected to the Android codebase and Google Services that they already use for mobile apps. This wearable tech will continue to expand the functionality that many mobile phones already provide. Joe Bondi, the CTO at Runkeeper pointed out that it is a natural step for apps that are used “on the go” such as theirs. You could finally have the option of not running with your phone in your pocket or in an uncomfortable arm band!

The (sort of) Bad – Unfortunately the Android Wear SDK only works for Android 4.3 and higher which the article points out, limits developers to only about 9% of the Android market. This however, will of course only be temporary, as the tech continues to develop and users catchup with higher Android systems, so the “bad” really isn’t so bad after all.

The Ugly? – Ok, I admittedly just used “the ugly” to complete the Clint Eastwood pun. It’s really not so ugly, but the biggest challenge that developers will face is the fact that the Android Wear screen is round. That could pose problems for displaying information. Developers will need to work carefully on what can actually be seen on the round face of the watch, so information is not lost. It is a new design element that could potentially pose some problems, but I have a feeling they will be short lived.

I have to admit, while I don’t imagine wearable tech replacing mobile devices anytime soon (many of the apps for the wearables, while operating untethered, still need the mobile app for best functionality), I have gotten more on board and am excited to see what developers can do with this new Android platform. Updates like these make it feel like we are getting a bit closer to the “always just out of reach” Sci-fi type future we have dreamed about in movies for decades. How did the theme in this post go from Sci-fi to Western back to Sci-fi?

What do you think of Android Wear? Will it pose a major problem for developing and testing, or will it be advantageous enough for developers to push through the minor speed bumps? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.

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