Android Wearbles Effect on App Developers

Android Wearables: Effect on App Developers

Google initially announced Android Wear in March 2014, along with releasing the first preview version of the platform for developers. According to canalys.com, “Over 720,000 Android Wear devices shipped in 2014 out of a total of 4.6 million smart wearable bands. Though the Moto 360 remained supply constrained through Q4, Motorola was the clear leader among Android Wear vendors. LG’s round G Watch R performed significantly better than its original G Watch, while Asus and Sony entered the market with their own Android Wear devices.”

Thus users now have option to choose from a wide range of smartwatches and wearable devices launched by leading hardware manufacturers like Samsung, Intel, LG, HTC, ASUS, Fossil and Motorola. The growing popularity of wearable devices will encourage more and more companies to launch new apps by targeting Android Wear. At the same time, businesses also have to upgrade their existing apps to make them work on smartwatches and other wearable devices powered by Android Wear. So the growing popularity of Android Wear will have a significant impact on both mobile app development, and developers.

Why Android Wear Devices will transform Mobile App Development?

A Version of Android OS
As the name indicates, Android Wear is a version of Google’s hugely popular mobile operating system. It is designed specifically with features required to run smartwatches and similar wearable devices. For instance, Android Wear supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The users can further pair the wearable devices with smartphones and tablets powered by Android 4.3 or iOS 8.2. Despite accessing standard Android APIs, Android Wear does not support several APIs including android.print, android.appwidget, android.app.backup and android.hardware.usb. So app developers must understand the features and APIs supported by Android Wear.

Google Now Integration
Google has integrated Google Now in Android Wear from the very beginning. So the users can take advantage of the intelligent personal assistant developed by Google. Google Now uses a language user interface to answer questions asked by users, make recommendations based on users’ preferences, and perform specific functions through web services. While using apps on their Android Wear devices, users will love to avail services of this smart personal assistant. So developers have to create apps that users can access and operate through voice actions.

Varying and Small Screen Size
The wearable devices have much smaller screen sizes than Android mobile devices. But the devices come with a wide variety of watch faces. Based on his preference, a user can opt for sunrise sunset, material, music, active, time-gauge, or paranormal watch face. So the developers have to keep in mind different styles and watch faces while developing apps for Android Wear smartwatches. Sometimes the programmers to have to create custom layouts to make the app deliver richer user experience across multiple devices.

Pairing with Handheld Devices
The smaller screen size of wearable devices does not allow them to have all functionality of handheld devices. The users have to pair the wearable devices with their smartphones, tablets or phablets to carry out all actions. They have to use the handheld device to carry out most actions, and then transfer the results to the smartwatches. Google recently announced the pairing applications for versions for iOS 8.2 onwards. Thus, the users can now pair their Android wear devices with iPhone or iPad. The pairing makes it essential for developers to focus on the latest version of two distinct mobile operating systems.

Extending Existing Apps to Wearable Devices
The growing popularity of Android smartwatches and other devices will encourage businesses to make their existing apps work on the wearable devices. Google does not allow users to download and install apps directly on their smartwatches. Each time a user downloads an Android app to his device, the app will be automatically installed on the wearable device by the system. The option makes it easier for users to access the same app on their handheld as well as wearable devices. But the developers have to create and test the app by installing the app directly on the smartwatches.

Increasing Battery Life
The wearable devices need to be useful just like conventional watches. So certain apps must be visible to users constantly. For instance, a user will love to check his to-do list to know the pending activities, or refer to the grocery list recorded through the wearable device while shopping in the market. The constant visibility of several apps will have a huge impact on the device’s battery life. So the developers have to explore ways to keep the apps visible and active without draining the battery. Google allows developers to create apps that can operate either in interactive or ambient mode. The ambient mode can keep the apps constantly visible without affecting the device’s battery life.

According to businessinsider.in, “When it comes to smartwatches, however, the Android Wear OS doesn’t even have this advantage. In a single day, Apple has shifted more units than Google’s partners did in a year.” So there are chances that mobile app developers soon have to build apps by targeting different smartwatches and wearable devices powered by Android Wear or Apple Watch platforms. They will also need new tools to speed up the development and testing of the new category of apps.

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