More details on the Android Wear UI and how everything works

March 18, 2014

Introducing Android Wear Developer Preview - YouTube 09 001265

Earlier today Google announced Android Wear, a new platform designed with smartwatches and other wearables in mind. Shortly after this, both LG and Motorola announced their own watches that will utilize the platform. Although there is still a lot of unknowns related to Android Wear and the products that will utilize it, Google’s Developer site certainly helps paint at least a little clearer picture of what to expect from devices that use the platform.

As for how it works? The new UI basically has two main areas, the Context Stream and the Cue Card.

The Context Stream

csThe first of these is basically a vertical list of cards that show notifications and other useful information in a way that is fairly similar to Google Now on Android phones and tablets. It’s important to note that each of these cards may also have additional pages of information that you can access by swiping horizontally, including tappable buttons that allow you to respond to notifications and more. You can also easily dismiss cards by simply swiping left to right.

For a look at using voice to respond to these notification cards, check out this video:

For those wondering how obtrusive the cards (and/or general notifications) are, Google makes it clear that only important notifications will actually buzz or make a sound on your wrist, basically the same kind of notifications that would alert you on a smartphone.

In order to make these notifications as useful as possible, Google has created developer guidelines that should keep your wrist from being flooded with unwanted notifications. For a closer look at some of these notifications work, check out the video:

It’s also worth mentioning that Google Wear devices will be aware of your location and even certain types of movements, so that way select apps for biking, hiking and other activities can present cards relevant to the situation. App developers can also choose to send only certain types of notifications and cards when you’re at home, at the gym, etc.

The Cue Card

cuecard

Aside from the context stream for notifications and other important data, there’s also the Cue Card interface. This UI is brought up by simply saying “OK Google” or by tapping on the “G” icon on the home screen.

From here you can either say a specific command, you you can scroll and tap on a list of possible commands. Developers will be able to link some of these specific commands (like calling a cab) with their apps, and it will be up to you to assign which apps are utilized with the command by default.

Tons of potential

As you can see, the new Android Wear platform makes most of the existing smartwatches look like nothing more than cheap toys. The ability to offer rich cards, notifications and voice-driven command support could be a real game-changer and may be exactly what is needed to make smartwatches a must-have product in the near future.

Obviously there is still a lot we don’t know about Android Wear and partnering products, but we’ll be sure to keep you updated as we learn more about the platform and the smartwatches that will be taking advantage of it. What do you think of Android Wear based on what we currently know, impressed or indifferent?

 

Comments

  • Jack Parker

    I’ll buy at £49

    • Mur

      I think it’ll be more like $250…

      • greeninja

        Well hopefully if they can make a full smartphone for $160 then they can make a smartwatch for a little less than that.

        • Mur

          Yeah…not gonna happen. Building a basic smartphone in an industry that has already firmly established itself and has been around for years is a whole lot easier than creating a whole new form factor as well as the technologies that come along with it (round display for instance). Early adopters always get charged. It’s not a matter of simply adding up the costs of the components.

  • http://soapbubble.co.ua/ Funes Bubble

    It’s really cool, but how long is battery life of Android Wear based devices?

    • Markus

      I believe that’s a matter of battery capacity, screen size and -resolution, processor etc. Otherwise I believe the system isn’t going to eat up all that much battery since (at the moment) it doesn’t do any hyper-battery draining tasks such as multitasking

  • Kepas

    Once again US get’s all the goodies…

    • MasterMuffin

      Still impressed though

    • David Soto

      ‘Murica, bitch.

  • Shark Bait

    Looking more and more awesome, maybe one day smart watches won’t be junk

  • John Garlits

    So….I was hoping for some explanation of whether it was stand-alone or had to link to a primary device by bluetooth. Did I miss something?

    • Cao Meo

      this will need a phone to work no doubt

    • Nathan Powell

      right now the hardware tech isn’t quite there for a stand alone watch to be particle (look at pine, which is nice, but bulky)

      • John Garlits

        Yeah, makes sense.

  • TheDave1022

    Who still wants that Tizen powered smartwatch?

    • Stefan

      Samsung really seems to have shot itself in the leg by using Tizen on the second Gear generation. Oh well, they have enough time to make an Android wearable.

  • http://geekinkuwait.blogspot.com/ Abhishek Kumar

    Awesome stuff!