This version of the Android operating system will essentially expand on notification devices like the Pebble watch or the Samsung Gear. Where those devices drive information from a phone to a wearable device like a wristwatch, Android Wear will support two-way communication. You’ll be able to ask your wearable device a question, starting with the phrase “OK, Google,” and your devices (which may or may not require connections to a wide-area network) will be able to respond. Users of Google Now — and there must be some of you out there — will be familiar with that means of interaction, except that now, it’s extended out from a hub communication device to someplace more convenient.
Google also says that Android Wear will gather and display sensor data; those sensors may or may not be wrist-bound.
A developer preview of the Android Wear API is available today; an SDK is promised “in the coming months,” which probably means at Google’s I/O conference on June 25 and 26.
Named partners for watches (and the web site specifies “watches,” as opposed to possibly more interesting devices) are Asus, Broadcom, Fossil, HTC, Intel, LG, Mediatek, MIPS, Motorola, Qualcomm, and Samsung. Some of those partners, of course, make components; others are clearly device manufacturers. Google says the watches will be available “later this year.” Making hardware, after all, is hard.
Hard, but not impossible. Motorola has already announced the Moto360, and LG has announced the G Watch, which looks more like a dongle or pendant watch than wristwear.
And here’s what Google has to say: