Google usually doesn’t spill the beans on their development roadmap for Android, so it’s refreshing to see some candid discussions on Android Wear’s immediate future in a CNET interview with David Singleton (Director of Engineering for Android Wear) and Hiroshi Lockheimer (Vice President of Engineering for Android). The interview contains some interesting revelations, a few of which will excite some users.
Music and GPS
Wondering why your watch has 4GB of storage on it? It’s not just for storing all your Google Fit step data, apparently – Google will deliver an update to Android Wear “soon” that will allow it to pair with Bluetooth headsets and play music stored on your watch. How will you get music to your watch? It’s not clear … although I’d like to see Google add the ability to sync tracks or albums from Google Play Music onto an Android Wear device. Given the limited resources available in an Android Wear device, KitKat’s low-power background audio playback makes a lot more sense on a watch.
Also coming soon to the platform is support for GPS sensors in the watch itself. Besides perhaps finally allowing me to put Ingress on my wrist, this will allow new devices with built-in GPS sensors (which existing Android Wear devices sadly lack) so that apps can exist only on your watch that will track your GPS location without relying on the phone’s sensors to do so.
Put those together, and Singletons’s envisioning a future where you can leave your phone at home while you go out for a run. Your Android Wear device can be disconnected from your phone, connected to your Bluetooth headset and play locally-stored music over Bluetooth while tracking your run with its onboard GPS and syncing everything up when you get home.
Singleton also mentions the forthcoming watch face API – significant because of the increasing number of thirdparty watch faces being developed and made available through Google Play already, despite the lack of an official API. Google seems aware of the excitement around customised watch faces and users’ enthusiasm for the feature, but the fact remains that the API can’t come soon enough.
We’d previously heard that Google would make the watch face API available with the Android L update for Android Wear, so perhaps seeing talk of the API now is indicative that the next big Android release is a little closer than we think?
Coming this week
Finally, there’s also said to be an update coming this week that will allow for a better navigation experience and voice action experience. Singleton didn’t mention whether this update will address the accuracy of voice input or whether it might finally enable the ability to speak commands to Android Wear in response to the notification card shown on screen (as demonstrated in the early Android Wear promotional video). We’ll be keeping an eye on our watches for the update and let you know when it hits.
You can read the full interview at CNET, which also discusses Google Glass, phone-independent smartwatches, the Android and Android Wear software update process and more.
Are you interested in adding Bluetooth audio to your Android Wear device? How about a future wearable with built-in GPS? What do you want your Android Wear device to do in the future? Tell us in the comments!
playing music to your bluetooth headset… you mean like to a mysterious bluetooth headset that Motorola looks to be announcing in a few days. Nicely timed announcement, but as you said Google doesn’t normally spill any development beans… unless its pertinent… but i think the platform needed some snippets of info to keep people going, especially with the Moto 360 finally getting it official time in the spot light. It would be great to have some independence of the wearable from the phone, while driving it can bluetooth your music to the car unit and provide navigation instruction too… just… Read more »
I’d really like to see NFC in watches, so I can tap stuff without needing to have/get my phone – I have some NFC tags at home for lighting control, and this would work brilliantly.
Good point. I feel like implementation of NFC HCE in KitKat could really make NFC in Android Wear devices useful.
Yeah, I was thinking that. There are probably some security implications to deal with there though, not sure what the technical implementation would look like. I’d guess this is why it hasn’t been done yet.