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Google Announces Android Wear, Its Plan for the Smartwatch and Beyond

Google will work with HTC, LG, Asus, Motorola and Samsung, with the first watches due out later this year.

Screenshot by Re/code

Google on Tuesday announced Android Wear, its effort to take the operating system beyond the phone and tablet and into the brave new world of wearables.

The effort is starting with watches, though Google suggested it sees a broader role for Android. Earlier this year, the company also detailed an effort to get Android into cars.

Android Wear devices will include fitness tracking options, voice control and the ability to get notifications, among other features.

Google said it is working with several existing Android device makers — HTC, LG, Asus, Motorola and Samsung — as well as watchmaker Fossil and chipmakers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm. The first watches are due out later this year.

In fact, LG announced its plans today to bring its Android Wear-powered G Watch to market in the second quarter of 2014. The company was light on details, but said it will be compatible with a wide range of Android smartphones. The watch will provide phone notifications and the ability to conduct voice-controlled queries by saying “Okay, Google.”

Meanwhile, Motorola unveiled the Moto 360. The smartwatch offers similar features to the G Watch and will be available this summer, beginning in the U.S.

Google is also releasing a “developer preview” of the watch software so app makers can get ready.

Android and Chrome head Sundar Pichai had said earlier this month that Google would release a toolkit for developers to build Android-based wearables.

Google Wear already works with Android’s notification system so some apps will work out of the gate, Google said.

The move comes as the wearable market is starting to heat up, with Samsung having just introduced its second-generation Gear and a number of device makers announcing plans to enter the arena. Apple and Microsoft are also said to be working on wearables of their own.

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