Android for wearables coming, says Google software boss

Android and Google logo Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Google would like its Android operating system to be used on more wearable devices

Google is branching out in the wearable technology market, with the release of a software development kit.

It would allow developers to create wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers using the Android operating system.

Google's senior vice-president of Android, Chrome and apps said: "We want to develop a set of common protocols by which they can work together."

The kit would be available in two weeks' time, Sundar Pichai added.

Image copyright Samsung
Image caption Samsung's Gear 2 uses Tizen instead of Android, which its predecessor used

Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch did run a version of Android - but after concerns over its interface and battery life, it switched to the Tizen software platform for its latest watch, the Gear 2.

Google Glass is the company's main foray into wearables so far. The device includes eyeglass frames equipped with a camera and small display controlled by voice command. The product is not yet on general sale but is being tested by selected people.

"Google is taking wearables seriously and it wants everyone else to," said John Delaney, vice-president of mobility research at analyst firm IDC.

"The industry thinks wearables is the next big thing as sales of smartphones start to plateau in developed markets and this is the latest attempt to build momentum behind it," he said.

"Google would be a competitor in the market but also an enabler if it helps Android developers."

Apple is reportedly working on a smartwatch that could use the operating system used on its iPhones and iPads.

Android is already the most used operating system on smartphones and more than 1.1 billion devices running Android are expected to ship this year, according to the research firm Gartner.

Geoff Blaber, an analyst at CCS Insight, said it was a logical move for Google.

"From Google's perspective, it's essential it introduces some consistency into a fast-fragmenting wearables space," he said

"Without a consistent software development kit there was a danger that the wearables space would quickly result in a fragmented array of implementations that would make it harder for Google to control and monetise.

"Google is striving to avoid history repeating itself. The early wearables landscape is reminiscent of the tablet market when manufacturers sought to respond to Apple's iPad by using Android for larger screen devices before Google had fully optimised the platform," he added

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