Android Wear paves the way for smarter watches

If today's smart watches aren't living up to your Dick Tracy fantasies, have hope. At yesterday's I/O keynote, Google discussed the future of Android Wear, its set of software tools for bringing Android apps to the wrist. 

If you're like the average Android user, you check your phone up to 125 times per day, according to Google. Android Wear devices are meant to keep you informed about your digital life without this disturbance. Apps extended with Android Wear are supposed to present information at a glance, and interactions with the Wear apps demonstrated on stage were quick and simple. Wear devices also integrate with Google Now, so you can take notes, get directions, set reminders, or play music, all from your wrist. David Singleton, Android's director of engineering, even ordered a pizza from his watch. I think we can truly say that we're living in the future.

LG's G Watch (left and center) and Samsung's Gear Live (right).

Android Wear wouldn't be much good without accompanying hardware, and LG, Samsung, and Motorola all have Wear devices on the way. If squares are your preference, you'll want LG's G Watch or Samsung's Gear Live, both of which are available to order today. The G Watch costs $229, while the Gear Live is slightly cheaper, at $199. Lovers of circles will have to wait for Motorola's Moto 360, which is slated for release "later this summer." If you want to write or extend apps using Wear, the SDK is "coming soon." 

Motorola's Moto360. 

Google's demonstrations of what's possible with Wear show promise for the form factor, but I'm not sure any of these devices is compelling enough to make me wear a watch again. I don't know if smart watches will live up to Google's promise of keeping users engaged with meatspace, either. Trading one set of obsessive tapping and swiping behaviors for another doesn't sound all that revolutionary.

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