The journey towards a Google-powered smartwatch appears to be just a little bit closer, as Sundar Pichai announced an SDK for developers to build apps that play nice with Android.
Using a smartwatch on Android isnt all that useful right now. You either get a notification dumpster on your wrist, or you have a separate platform with apps that may or may not play nicely with the apps on your phone. In an ideal environment, the apps on your phone would compliment or enhance the apps on your wrist, allowing for reciprocal functionality that make these accessories a lot more useful.
In order to do that you either need Googles help or you need your own tools for developers to add into their existing apps. Since no one has been able to do the latter in any successful fashion yet, it was important to wait for Google to do their thing and create the tools and extend their sandbox to wearables.
During the SXSWi conference in Austin, Texas last weekend that finally happened.
Googles Android and Chrome chief Sundar Pichai announced on stage that a wearables SDK would be coming in the next couple of weeks. The goal of this SDK will be to lay out the vision for developers in how we see this market working, according to Pichai.
Historically, this kind of SDK points towards a reference device of some kind in order to give developers a clear target to shoot at. Weve known for some time that Google has been preparing a smartwatch of their own using the talented engineers they acquired when they purchased WIMM, and while its possible that this watch will accompany the SDK announcement it is also likely Google will work with a third party until they are ready to deploy their own smartwatch.
Its unclear whether or not Google Glass will be included in this SDK, but theres a good chance for some crossover there. Google has the ability to put services like Google Now on your wrist, which would be an enormous differentiator between Googles hardware and the existing wearables available today.
This is the kind of thing many were expecting Google to announce at their annual developers conference, but the release of the updated Gear line from Samsung may have encouraged Google to accelerate those plans. Well see soon enough what Google has up their sleeves for the wearables market, and whether or not their plans will be enough to cause a shift in how useful wrist and face mounted computers really are.