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Google Shows Off Smartwatch Operating System

Rafe Needleman
Editorial Director, Yahoo Tech
Yahoo Tech

Sundar Pichai, Senior VP at Google, teased the audience at Google I/O by showing up on stage sporting what appeared to be the Motorola smartwatch. (Yahoo Tech)

Google announced its operating system for smartwatches a little more than three months ago. Today at its big Google I/O conference, the company extended on the promise of the “Android Wear” OS by showing a rich demo on an LG G watch. 

The LG G watch will be available for preorder later today, said David Singleton, Google director of Android engineering. A new Samsung phone supporting Android Wear, the Samsung Gear Live, will also be available for ordering today.

In this demo at Google I/O, The LG G watch, on the right, is controlling the display of an Android phone. (Yahoo Tech)

The round Moto 360 watch will be available later this summer, Singleton said.

Read: Google Announces ‘Android Wear,’ a New Operating System for Smartwatches

Google Now, the company’s “concierge” app that alerts people about upcoming appointments, flight data, and other information that it predicts will be relevant, is a key part of the Android Wear project. The demo showed the watch alerting the owner when he arrived home, for example, to check his mail for a package that had been delivered.

Singleton said “style is important,” when it comes to watches, and that the Android Wear system will support “both square and circular screens.” The Moto 360 will be the first watch using the round interface.  

Singleton said that the sensors on an Android watch “will understand context,” and that the watch will provide “intelligent answers to spoken questions.” In the demo, the wearer tapped and swiped on the watch face to change displays, but by speaking commands like, “What is Limburger?” the watch would pull up the requested info.

The round Moto 360 watch arrives later this summer, Google said. (Yahoo Tech)

Google is making the voice commands available to developers, too. For example, if the wearer has a Lyft account, saying, “Call me a car” will fire the Lyft app and show a ride request screen. Later in the ride, the wearer can confirm payment and rate the driver — on the watch.

Google watches will be tightly tied to their wearers’ Android phones. If you dismiss a notification on your watch, it will also be dismissed from your phone. And if you’re following a series of steps on the watch, like a recipe, the phone can also follow along, so you could use the watch to control the display on your phone. “And all the devices shown here are water resistant,” Singleton added.

Rafe Needleman can be reached at rafeneedleman@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @rafe​.