The 2014 Google I/O developer conference keynote focused heavily on mobile, including wearables. Here's what Android Wear could mean for business users.
The keynote for the 2014 Google I/O conference set the stage for Google's focus in the coming year: mobile.
While much of the keynote was spent unveiling the newest Android OS "L" and Google's concept of "Material Design," there was also an emphasis on wearables.
Sundar Pichai, Google's head of Android, Chrome, and Apps, stepped on stage to open the 2014 I/O keynote wearing what looked like a Motorola Moto360 smartwatch. Dave Burke, the director of engineering for Android also wore what looked like a smartwatch. In fact, it seems that every presenter was wearing a smartwatch.
"It's finally possible to make a powerful computer small enough to wear comfortably on your body all day long, and there's a huge opportunity to bring rich user experiences to these devices," said David Singleton, the director of engineering for Android.
That's the reason that Singleton gave for Google building its Android Wear platform. Google launched the Android Wear preview about three months ago with an SDK release in tandem with the preview of the Moto360 watch.
Singleton mentioned that Android users check their phones, on average, 125 times a day. The goal of Android Wear, he said, is to "make sure you never miss an important message while letting you stay engaged with the people you're actually with."
Android Wear supports square and circular screen styles, and users can select from a group of background designs, making it easily customizable for the environment in which you're wearing it. Of course, the watches are designed using the new Material Design mentioned early in the keynote.
The design is heavily focused on Google Now cards notifications and is focused on bringing contextual information to users. For example, business travelers will have access to their flight status, boarding pass, hotel address, and the weather at their destination. Additionally, it shows health notifications, such as heart rate, that have been important in many wearable campaigns.
One of the biggest potential implications for enterprise users is the ability to control other Android devices directly from the smartwatches themselves. As an example during the keynote, a watch was used to play music from the Android phone it was connected to.
Additional security features will also play a key role in making wearables that are enterprise-ready. Earlier in the keynote, a security feature was demonstrated that showed how the Bluetooth connectivity of an Android Wear will affect Android phones. When the phone can determine that a recognized Bluetooth device is close, as on the wrist of the user, it will not prompt the user to complete a pin lock to open the device.
In addition to the LG G watch and the Motorola Moto360, Singleton announced that Samsung will be joining the Android Wear family with the Samsung Gear Live. Samsung's work with security features such as Knox could also mean more secure wearables for the enterprise.
In speaking about the new Android for work initiative, Pichai mentioned the importance of security for enterprise data.
"Samsung has done a lot of important work in this area with Knox," Pichai said. "And, we really want to thank Samsung, they are contributing all of their work in Knox to the Android platform so we have one consistent story for enterprise across Android."
Now that Knox security will likely become a native feature on Android phones and tablets, that security will extend to wearables as well, quelling one of the main fears of wearables in the workplace.
Both the LG G watch and the Samsung Live will be available for pre-order late Wednesday, June 25, and the Moto360 will be available later this summer.