SAN FRANCISCO – Google thinks it’s time for an Internet-connected watch that performs many of the same tasks as a smartphone but with fewer distractions and rude interruptions.
The Internet’s most influential company is trying to unleash a new era in mobile computing with a version of its Android software tailored for high-tech watches and other devices that can be worn instead of held.
The Android Wear operating system released this month is an altered version of Google’s popular software that powers more than 1 billion of the world’s smartphones and tablets. The new software will run on an array of so-called smartwatches scheduled to be released later this year.
The Android watches will be less conspicuous – and perhaps less obnoxious – than Google Glass, the high-tech headwear that includes a small camera and thumbnail-sized display screen attach to frames that look like a pair of spectacles.
Google is already trying to create more uses for Android watches by making the software available to computer programmers interested in making apps for the software.
Cultivating more applications will be crucial because smartwatches probably may never become the main device that people use to help manage their lives, said Gartner analyst Brian Blau.
That means consumers are going to have to see more compelling features to be persuaded to spend another $100 or $200 for a complementary device to a smartphone or tablet.
The first Android watch may come from Motorola Mobility, a Google subsidiary that is in the process of being sold to Lenovo Group. Motorola already has built a prototype of its Android watch, called Moto 360, that will go on sale this summer. No details on pricing were announced.
LG Electronics, a frequent Google partner in the smartphone and tablet markets, and fashion accessory maker Fossil Group also say they will share more details about their Android watches in the coming months. Other device-makers working on Android watches include Asus, HTC and Samsung Electronics, according to Google.
Those companies will likely be competing against a highly anticipated smartwatch from iPhone-maker Apple Inc. that is expected to be unveiled later this year. True to its secretive nature, Apple hasn’t confirmed any plans to make a watch.