Google And Samsung Join Forces With Wear
Written by Lucy Black   
Friday, 21 May 2021

Perhaps the most exciting news from Google I/O is that Google and Samsung are collaborating on a unified platform that combines features from Samsung's Tizen Operating System with Google's Wear OS to create a smartwatch that can compete with Apple's.

It is over seven years since we covered the launch of Android Wear, as it was called back in 2014 when its Developer Preview was announced at Google I/O . It has made regular appearances at subsequent Google I/Os, and back in January 2017 we reported on the developer preview of Android Wear 2 - but since then it largely fell off our radar.

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This year's news is different and encouraging to any developer keen on wearables, and smartwatches in particular. and might just put Google with Samsung back in the picture, or rather on the wrist, as far as consumers and developers are concerned.

In case you missed it, this is the presentation Bjorn Kilburn gave this week about the new Wear platform. 

 

His blog post also highlights many of the important benefits of  the Google/Samsung joint venture including significant improvements to battery life, 30 percent faster loading times for apps, smoother animations and a greater selection of apps and watch faces than ever before.

Kilburn also highlights the fact that Google Maps and Google Assistant are being redesigned and improved in order to perform better on the user's wrist.. Google Pay will also be redesigned with support for 26 new countries, beyond the 11 countries currently available. YouTube Music will also arrive on Wear later this year, equipped with features like smart downloads for subscribers to enjoy music while on the go. 

The one report relevant to Wear OS made in the recent report was Google Buys Fitbit in November 2019. As Kilburn points out, health and fitness tracking is a key area for wearables so it's almost a question of what took you so long to hear that, in the new version of Wear:

The best of Fitbit, including features like tracking your health progress throughout your day and on-wrist goal celebrations, will motivate you on your journey to better health.

As far a developers are concerned the important news is that Tiles, the carousel users can scroll through, is being opened up to developers. If you want to know more about developing with the Tiles API Karen Ng takes a look at the Tiles API and walks though a "Hello World" using it starting at 7:08 in the video above.

APIs

The Tile API is just one of the new APIs that Jetpack libraries being made available for building apps, some of which are described as Kotlin-First. One of these is the Ongoing Activity API which Karen Ng also introduces in the video. She also refers to new tools in Android Studio and a new and improved emulator to help you test you apps without needing a watch. 

It all sound very exciting for Android developers looking for the opportunity to create wearable apps. However the problem is, as always, we need a large market to make it worth developing apps and the market needs the apps before it grows. Apple currently has cornered the Smartwatch market - let's hope Google+Samsung can change this state of affairs.

wearwatch

More Information

What’s new for Wear

developer.android.com/wear

Related Articles

Google Buys Fitbit

Android Wear 2.0 To Launch In February (2017)

Android Comes To Wearables And Watches (2014) 

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Last Updated ( Friday, 21 May 2021 )