Voice-controlled smartwatches that track heart rates and connect to phones and tablets will debut later this year as Google Inc. partners with electronics, technology and fashion companies to take consumers to the next promised frontier in computing. Here are 10 facts about Android-powered smartwatches:
1. 'Android Wear' operating system, released Tuesday, is an altered version of Google's popular software that powers more than 1 billion of the world's smartphones and tablets. Android Wear OS will run on an array of so-called smartwatches scheduled to be released later this year.
2. Google thinks it's time for an Internet-connected watch that performs many of the same tasks as a smartphone but with fewer distractions and rude interruptions.
3. LG Electronics said on Tuesday it would introduce its first Android watch, the G Watch, in the second quarter. Motorola already has built a prototype of its Android watch, called Moto 360, that will go on sale this summer. No details on pricing were announced. Fossil Group Inc, which makes watches, handbags and other accessories, also announced that it was working with Google on Android devices. Other device makers working on Android watches include Asus, HTC and Samsung Electronics, according to Google.
4. Those companies will likely be competing against a highly anticipated smartwatch from iPhone maker Apple Inc. that is expected to be unveiled later this year. Samsung was among the first to sell a smartwatch for consumers, but its maiden effort, the Galaxy Gear, was widely panned by reviewers.
5. Android smartwatches will connect wirelessly to a mobile phone and can be outfitted with a variety of sensors, Google said. hat means that apps developed for Android watches will be able to monitor fitness and health information such as a wearer's heart rate or distance jogged.
6. The Android watches will be less conspicuous - and perhaps less obnoxious - than Google Glass, the high-tech headwear that includes a small camera and thumbnail-sized display screen attach to frames that look like a pair of spectacles.
7. Like Glass and smartphones running on other versions of the software, the Android watches will respond to voice commands such as 'Ok Google'' to play a specific song, send a text or make a restaurant reservation.
8. It will also feature a virtual assistant, called Google Now, to learn a user's routines and preference so it can automatically show important information that can be seen with a quick look at the wrist.
9. Google is already trying to create more uses for Android watches by making the software available to computer programmers interested in making apps for the software.
10. Google's new take on Android may help cultivate more mainstream appeal for smartwatches.