Google reveals why it thinks we'll buy smartwatches

Android wear

SMS, fitness and email are holy trinity of smart watches, engineers claim

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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