"It's time your watch did more than show you the time."
Yes, that's what Motorola says with their new watch Moto 360. But honestly, for the first time, there's a watch that looks, well, like a watch. With the added benefits of a smartwatch, it is the first smartwatch that I feel like buying. However, it is what's under the hood, that's going the usher a new revolution in app development.
The launch of the Moto 360 and the LG G watch coincides with the launch of Android Wear. Android Wear is the SDK launched by Google specifically for wearable devices. A developer preview is available, using which you can extend your already existing apps to smart watches.
Check out this video to understand more about Android Wear -
Is the smart watch something people will use?
At first, you'd think of a smart watch as a gimmick. Along with the function of showing time, the watch has an aesthetic value. The time shown by a Rolex is no different from the time shown by any other watch which is at 1/10th the price. But if you had the money, you'd still buy the Rolex.
Furthermore, putting a touch screen on a watch might not even seem like a great idea. I mean, touching the watch's screen to change the time is going to be, well, different from what you're used to. Ravi Vyas, an Android developer from Mumbai says, "Watches are non-interactive consumption devices. Touch and voice commands are going to make its use cumbersome."
Amrit Sanjeev, a Bangalore-based Android developer, on the other hand says, "I use a Sony smart watch and I really love using it. There are so many interesting use cases to it, such as reading a text message or checking a summary of my email. These tasks would have otherwise required me to take out a phone from my pocket, which is more cumbersome."
Smart watches are also relatively inexpensive. You can get a Sony Smartwatch at about 150 USD, which is a fraction of the cost of a good watch. The added features of the smart watch present a good case in persuading an average user to buy one. Furthermore, the smart watch is at a very early alpha stage, so these devices are only going to get better. I think people will use smart watches in the time to come.
Should you start developing smart watch apps?
Oh, absolutely. There are already 300+ smart watch apps for Sony alone, on the Android app stores. These are all paid, and some of them have got a significant number of downloads on them as well. Plus, the launch of Android Wear opens a plethora of options. Before this, OEMs like Sony and Samsung used their own propriety SDKs and API sets. You'd have to create a separate app for each kind of smart watch. Now there will be a common SDK for a large number of devices. Google announced that they're working with all kinds of hardware makers, including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung; chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm; and fashion brands like the Fossil Group to bring you watches powered by Android Wear later this year. Well, that covers the whole spectrum.
But Amrit thinks there is a better reason to start building smartwatch apps. He says, "This is exactly like how it was when Android was launched. Everyone was on a level playing field. No one could say that they had more experience than the other. While the platform for software development is the same, building a smart watch app is going to a whole lot more different from building smartphone apps. It's a level playing field again and if you've got the time to learn something new, you should definitely explore this. Especially students; learning to build smartwatch apps gives you an early mover's advantage and you'll have a very employable skill as soon as you graduate. "
To put that in perspective, almost every smart watch app on the Play Store is a paid app. And quite a few of them, make a compelling buy. Add this to the smart watches which are going to come out, it is a really good reason for you to pick it up.
Have you signed up for IndiaHacks yet?