Android Wear is an extension of Google’s Android mobile operating system, designed for smartwatches and other wearables. Google announced the platform in March 2014 along with confirming LG, HTC, Samsung, Motorola and Asus as partners, and additional support from Intel, Imagination, Mediatek, and Qualcomm.

 

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At this year’s Google I/O, the Android Wear was addressed as the “new phase in miniaturization of technology” by Google. There was a demo for reminder apps and navigation via Google Maps and the full Android Wear Software Development Kit (SDK) is available for download. If you are an app developer, you can download the SDK and start tweaking your apps for Android Wear. But before that, let’s see some of the key features of Android Wear and the devices running on it.

 

Android Wear watches have been designed to work in sync with all types of Android phones running on Android 4.3 or later. As apparent, these don’t work with iOS or Windows phones. Android Wear watches run nearly the same software, Google Now-style notification cards, menus, and voice-driven features. It is a sort of accessory to your Android phone which runs similar apps and notifications on both the devices. There’s no on-screen keypad on the Android Wear, so one has to speak to it to get things done via Google’s voice recognition.

 

The glitch with Paid Apps for Android Wear

Google has updated the Play Store prior to the release of Android Wear; there’s a separate section for Android Wear apps on the Play Store now. This makes it easier for users to download apps for their smartwatches. However, there’s a glitch with the paid apps. Users can download the paid apps on their phones but cannot install it on their wearables. Paid apps cannot be transferred from phone to the wearable via Bluetooth because of an encryption bug.

 

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Android Wear apps need to be synced with its related mobile app. Free apps can be unwrapped from the package and can be installed on smartphones, but paid apps cannot be. Google has come up with a workaround for the issue. For paid apps, developers have to now follow a four-step process to eliminate the problem.

 

In a blogpost Google explains: “There are two ways to package your wearable app: use the ‘wearApp’ Gradle rule to package your wearable app or manually package the wearable app. For paid apps, the workaround is to manually package your apps, and you cannot use the ‘wearApp’ Gradle rule.”

 

LG’s G Watch and Samsung Gear Live have hit the market, and Motorola’s Moto 360 will be releasing this month. Also, HTC is expected to come up with its Android Wear soon. As the inception of smartwatches is here, app developers would be now inclined towards developing apps that work on the smartwatches as well. Developers should leverage this new platform soon, as Android Wear is a thing to stay here for long.

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Google I/O is a developer-focused conference held by Google every year since 2008. This year the event was held at the Moscone Center, San Francisco on 25th and 26th June.

Google leverages this platform to announce and launch new products, and this year also Google has made some important announcements. What Google has outlined in this year’s I/O event is that it wants Android to be everywhere. Whether it’s your wearable, car, or TV – Android would follow you everywhere.

Every initiative, every project Google has announced or spoken about in the I/O 2014 involves Android. There’s a pool of opportunities for Android app developers to build great apps for some great devices to come.

 

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Here’s a highlight on the major developments and announcements:

 

Android One

Google announced its Android One initiative which aims at providing high quality and affordable smartphones to people in developing nations. The first Android One device is being developed by Google along with Micromax, an Indian mobile device manufacturer to deploy affordable smartphones (running on stock Android) below the $100 mark.

 

Android L

Android L is the successor to Android Kit-Kat with the objective to enhance the user experience in a way that extends beyond mobile devices, wearables, cars, TV and others. Google is adding more than 5,000 new APIs to Android L along with a new suite of design tools called ‘Material Design’ which focuses on object depth and animation.

 

Android TV

After the unsuccessful run of Google TV, Google now announces Android TV. This brings all the Android features to your TV. You will be able to access apps from Play store and play Android games on your TV, along with voice input. “We’re simply giving TV the same level of attention as phones and tablets have traditionally enjoyed. We want you to leverage your existing skills and investment in Android and extend them to TV”, said Dave Burke, the Engineering Director of Google.

  

Android Wear smartwatches

Google had announced the Android Wear project three months prior to the I/O 2014. The project allows developers to build apps for smatwatches and other wearables. In the event Google announced what Android Wear are coming out this year.  LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live will be the first two Android Wears to hit the market, and are now available for pre-orders. Motorola’s Android Wear smartwatch will be the next in line for release. The Android Wear SDK is available for download. If you are an app developer, you can download the SDK and start tweaking your apps for Android Wear.

 

Android Auto

After the announcement of its Open Automotive Alliance in January 2014, Google announced its next step to get Android into auto – Android Auto. Android auto provides you the scenario where if you connect your Android phone with your car you can access the apps on the dashboard of your car. You can then navigate through your mobile apps using your car controls. To avoid distractions further, Android Auto has been voice enabled.

 

Android apps for Chromebooks

Google is working on bridging the gap between Android phones and Chromebooks. Users will be able to run Android apps and receive notifications from Android device on Chromebook. Also, if you have your Android smartphone with you, Google would automatically detect the phone on Chromebook and sign you into your apps and services. Google showed a demo where apps were transferred from a Android phone to Chromebook.

 

All these ongoing and upcoming projects offer great opportunities to app developers. Android developers could leverage Google’s platform to build great apps.