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Google reveals why it thinks we'll buy smartwatches

Android wear

By Jane McCallion

Posted on 2 Sep 2014 at 15:13

Many of us have wondered why people would ever pay for a smartwatch. Google's answer: we like to know what's going on all the time.

In an interview with CNET, Android engineering director David Singleton and VP of Android engineering Hiroshi Lockheimer, said bringing fitness and communications functions together make wearables invaluable to the user.

"There are times when I'm using the device, and I'll have to go somewhere to take it off ... [because it's] not on the market yet." Singleton told CNET.

"Being able to have the fitness tracking that I might get from a little band, as well as being able to stay up to date with what's going on with people who I'm not with right now, through email or SMS or notifications - when I take it off, I really miss it," he said.

Fitness tracking has been a key feature of many of the latest smartwatches to be released, including the Samsung Gear Fit, Gear Nano and Gear 2, and the soon to be launched Gear S. It's also expected to be a major feature of the iWatch.

This focus on fitness as well as notifications for written communications will form an important part of upcoming updates to the Android Wear mobile OS.

"We're introducing GPS support for the platform ... [which] unlocks a whole set of new use cases," said Singleton.

"If you're someone who likes to go for a run, it might be convenient to be able to leave your phone at home. So you can start recording your track with GPS on the watch ... and when you come back home, everything will be synced up with the apps running on your phone," he added.

Other sensors, such as barometers and altimeters, which can be particularly useful in weareables or apps aimed at hikers or skiers, are also part of this focus on fitness, the duo said.

Lockheimer pointed to the recently announced Google Fit platform as an integral part of this focus on fitness.

"We'll have this service that really integrates all these sensors and give you a holistic view of what's happening to your body, or yours (sic) surrounding, or whatever it is," Lockheimer said.

Google is also looking at using wireless technology to connect devices running Android Wear with other wearables.

"We'll have an update coming that allows you to pair a Bluetooth headset with your watch. And that means you can play music stored on your watch directly on your Bluetooth headset," Singleton explained.

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User comments

Wow

I can keep fit by plugging it into its charger every few hours.

I still think they are being released before the technology is ready.

By tirons1 on 2 Sep 2014

Most of the runners

I know have a stopwatch built into the normal watch and they run the same route, so they don't see the point in forking out for a smart device.

They've been running daily for decades without the help of electronic aids and they don't see the point or don't think the benefits warrant the price.

By big_D on 3 Sep 2014

@big_D

I agree that it makes little sense, but I have met a surprising number of runners who use the Garmin watches. The advantage is that rather than getting your day to day watch all sweaty you have a grotty watch for running and a clean watch for the rest of the day.

By tirons1 on 3 Sep 2014

Not accurate

The fitness functions are only suitable for people who are ignorant of the woeful inaccuracy of monitors built into a watch.

There's a very good reason why all decent monitors come with things like chest straps and inflatable cuffs.

And any manageable watch 'screen' is going to be too small to display a viable amount of message information.

Then there is the problem of powering the thing.

The only people I can see liking these things are technology 'victims'.

However, I could easily be wrong.

By qpw3141 on 3 Sep 2014

I stopped wearing watches a long time ago. Time displays are everywhere these days - on my phone, the corner of my PC screen, the wall, the microwave, the cooker, the car, the dishwasher, the....

So, no need for a time telling device on my wrist any more. So what else? Reading messages? Do I really want to look at a tiny screen on my wrist rather than a bigger screen held in a hand that's just beyond that wrist? Nope....

And that's before we get onto the charging faff. And after a year of daily charge cycles what state will the battery be in?

Fitness? Count me out. Each morning I do 20 press ups. Then I do the other eyelid.

By PaulOckenden on 3 Sep 2014

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