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Google to bring Android to wearables

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Moto 360_Map.jpg
  
Google on Tuesday unveiled Android Wear, a version of its Android mobile operating system software that has been developed for wearable computers—and its starting with watches.

Much like Google Glass, the smartwatch will use Google Now, the personal assistant software. Users can just say "OK Google" to ask questions or complete tasks like sending a text or making a restaurant reservation. The watch will link to Android smartphones and will include apps that give users the latest posts and updates from social apps, chats from preferred messaging apps and notifications.

The smartwatch will also be able to monitor fitness by using apps to give real-time speed, distance and time information during a run, walk or cycle, Google said. This is a noteworthy inclusion considering Apple is also rumored to be working on an "iWatch" that some say will include health and fitness-monitoring functions, reported Apple Insider last month. 

Following Google's announcement, Motorola and LG said they would begin selling smartwatch devices later this year. Motorola's Moto 360, which features a round face, will be available in U.S. stores this summer. LG's G Watch, which is shown with a rectangular face, will be introduced in the second quarter of 2014, the company says. 

Google is also working with consumer electronics manufacturers Asus, HTC and Samsung, chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm as well as watch company Fossil Group.

Earlier this month, Google executive Sundar Pichai said the company would release a version of Android for developers who want to explore wearable technology. Developers, the folks Google will rely on to roll out useful apps, were a big component of the Android Wear unveiling Tuesday.

A new section on Google's developer site is focused on wearables. Developers can download a preview to tailor existing app notifications for watches powered by Android Wear. Many apps will already work on the watches, Google said. 

— By on March 18, 2014, 10:16 PM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure