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Google tweaking Android for wearable devices, SDK coming in 2 weeks


Speaking at the SXSW Interactive conference on Sunday in Austin, Google’s senior vice president for Android, Chrome and Chrome Apps Sundar Pichai revealed that the search engine giant is planning to release a software development kit for wearables. And of course, it’s based on Android.

The latest move will get the operating system, popular on smartphones and tablets, onto wearable devices such as smatwatches, fitness bands, and jackets with sensors, among others. The move might also serve as sparkplug for the whole wearable technology industry so it can have that big boom everyone’s waiting for. The world of wearables is still a world of opportunities.

Pichai discussed how Google envisions a world of wearable devices where small yet powerful sensors rule the game. These sensors will collect the required data that can be utilized by the users. He shared how Google plans to create a protocol that will help sensors of wearables communicate with each other so everything, regardless of brand, can work smoothly together.

Rolling out the SDK will allow Google to explore other possibilities about wearable gadgets. The development of potential useful apps may also ease the burden on device manufacturers that will be more than willing to collaborate with Google by using its software.

The featured session of Pichai at the SXSW 2014 was moderated by investor and author John Battelle. He asked Pichai several questions during the talk. One concern raised was hidden clauses when licensing Android. Battelle asked if it’s true that Google requires partner manufacturers to set as default certain Google services.

Pichai was quick to defend that Android is very open as a system, and that partners can essentially do what they want to customize the software. While denying that Google is sort of controlling, he also said that Google may require Google services to be set as default but such conditions aren’t exclusive so those using the software can introduce as much amount of bloatware they want.

The Google executive was also asked about Chromecast. For the first time, the company hinted that it’s sold millions of units in the United States. For those who mightn’t be familiar, the USB-like device can be plugged into a compatible HDTV to stream the user’s favorite streaming online entertainment into a bigger screen with the smartphone or tablet as its mirror or remote control.

Sundar was also asked about the future of Nest Labs and the implications of the acquisition of the company by Google. Battelle inquired if the company will require users of Nest devices to have Google+ and whether there will be integration of Chrome or Android to the products. Pichai denied that a Google+ account will be needed but implied that Google needs certain layers that will connect all the devices.

Pichai also touched on the developments with Project Ara, an initiative that aims to create modular and affordable smartphones for developing countries, and Project Tango. The latter gives the smartphone or tablet the ability to understand its location inside a room.

Once the Android SDK for wearable is out, we can expect that the Glasses won’t be alone in the wearables arsenal of Google anymore.

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