Google announced its wearables platform, Android Wear, in March but at its annual Google I/O developer conference on Wednesday afternoon, the tech giant gave a hands-on preview of the software and its features.
The software is designed to give users the information they want at a quick glance, as such, its look is very similar to Google Now and Google’s familiar “cards.”
Android Wear devices have an always-on display, with different display options, ranging from traditional to digital clock faces. Notifications appear on the display, and alert users via vibration. Users can then receive more information and respond to the notification with a horizontal swipe, or simply swipe it away. Android Wear automatically syncs with Android smartphones and/or tablets, so when users swipe away a notification from their wrists, it will also disappear from the mobile devices.
For users who don’t want constant notifications and a vibrating wrist, a “Do Not Disturb” mode is available in Android Wear.
Voice activation is heavily integrated into Android Wear to allow users to interact with their apps, set reminders and alarms and record fleeting thoughts in a note. This can be accomplished by touching the display and saying “Ok, Google” followed by the command, according to the demo at Google I/O.
Android Wear also allows users to control music playback, check heart rate after a workout, and get turn-by-turn directions from Google Maps. In order to get apps on an Android Wear devices, users must first download the app to a smartphone or tablet from the Google Play Store and the wearable portion of the app, should it exist, will automatically install.
As Google showed off at I/O, an Android Wear smartwatch can also function with other devices. It works as an authenticator for Android smartphones when connected via Bluetooth, allowing users to bypass the passcode screen. It also works as a remote with the recently-announced Android TV.
In terms of devices, a few companies have already developed smartwatches that run Android Wear and are available today. Google announced the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, not to be confused with the Gear Fit or Gear 2, will be available to purchase today via the Google Play Store. The round-faced Moto 360 will be available later this summer.