Android Wear for Smartwatches
The Android Wear software will make for a much better experience when using Android on a smartwatch. Screengrab/YouTube

Google has announced Android Wear, a verison of its mobile operating system tailored specifically for smartwatches.

Announced by Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president overseeing Android, Chrome and Google Apps, the new version of Android will look to solve one of the major issues people have had with wearable devices so far - the clunky implementation of Android on a much smaller device.

While Android Wear will eventually be used on a variety of wearable devices, Google is starting with the most prolific type of wearable today - smartwatches.

Google has released a couple of videos showing how Android Wear will work with smartwatches, including a number of unknown smartwatch models which may just be prototypes.

Google is widely rumoured to be launching its own Nexus smartwatch, which could be unveiled running Android Wear at the company's developer conference Google I/O in June.

"We've barely scratched the surface of what's possible with mobile technology. That's why we're so excited about wearables—they understand the context of the world around you, and you can interact with them simply and efficiently, with just a glance or a spoken word," Pichai said on the official Google Blog.

Android Wear will allow developers to tailor their apps for much smaller screens, making it much easier for users to see informaiton they need when they need it. Android Wear will also put Google's voice recognition software and Google Now at the centre of devices running it.

Health and fitness will also be a major aspect of Android Wear, letting apps give you speed, distance and time information.

Google has described some of the ways Android Wear will be able to help users and developers:

    • Useful information when you need it most. Android Wear shows you info and suggestions you need, right when you need them. The wide variety of Android applications means you'll receive the latest posts and updates from your favorite social apps, chats from your preferred messaging apps, notifications from shopping, news and photography apps, and more.
    • Straight answers to spoken questions. Just say "Ok Google" to ask questions, like how many calories are in an avocado, what time your flight leaves, and the score of the game. Or say "Ok Google" to get stuff done, like calling a taxi, sending a text, making a restaurant reservation or setting an alarm.
    • The ability to better monitor your health and fitness. Hit your exercise goals with reminders and fitness summaries from Android Wear. Your favorite fitness apps can give you real-time speed, distance and time information on your wrist for your run, cycle or walk.
    • Your key to a multiscreen world. Android Wear lets you access and control other devices from your wrist. Just say "Ok Google" to fire up a music playlist on your phone, or cast your favorite movie to your TV. There's a lot of possibilities here so we're eager to see what developers build.

Developers can download a preview of the software developer kit (SDK) as of now from a new section on the Android website to start tailoring their existing app notifications for watches powered by Android Wear.

Google says that because Android for wearables works with Android's "rich notification system" many apps will already work well.

Google says Android Wear-powered smartwatches will launch later this year and it is already working with several major manufacturers including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung; fashion brands like Fossil Group as well as chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm.

Engadget is reporting that LG will be the first manufacturer to roll out a smartwatch running Android Wear.