Posted by Chris Martin 30 June 2014
Android Wear makes Google Glass pointless: Smartwatches vs smartglasses
Google I/O, the firm's annual developer conference took place last week and with it came a hoard of information about Android. Various different versions were detailed including Android L, Android TV and Android Auto.
A couple of days before the I/O keynote, Google launched its Explorer Programme in the UK meaning anyone willing to pay the hefty sum of £1000 can get their hands on a pair of Google Glass smartglasses. However, the launch of Android Wear essentially makes the futuristic gadget pointless if you ask me – for a number of reasons.
To explain a little about Android Wear, it is Google's mobile operating system which you'll probably be familiar with on smartphones and tablets but tweaked and tailored especially for wearable devices like smartwatches.
In a nut shell, it brings a familiar Google Now style interface to your wrist without hardware manufacturers messing with it. It provides notifications and information when you need it; from a text message to turn-by-turn navigation. Interaction is easy with simple swipe gestures or even voice commands.
Style and choice
The great thing is that the Android Wear system is available on different smartwatches. There's only a couple available now – the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live - but more will launch over time including the seriously stylish Moto 360 (above).
This means you can get an Android Wear smartwatch in package which suits your taste. Glass comes in different colours and with optional frames but it's not really the same, is it?
Glass is still a work-in-progress prototype device but it's on sale on the Play store just like the Nexus devices. Google is probably actually making money from a physical product but that's another blog post in itself. Only seriously keen consumers are going to spend a grand on Glass compared to an Android Wear smartwatch at around £150.
Even when Glass does arrive as a finished product, it's almost certainly going to be more expensive than a smartwatch. How long will it take advertisers to ruin wearable tech?
Not only are Android Wear devices considerably cheaper than a pair of Google Glass, they can do essentially the same things. Glass is about providing you with the information you need quickly and efficiently and that's exactly what an Android Wear smartwatch will do. Both use Google's knowledge graph and can communicate with your paired smartphone to carry out all kinds of tasks.
However, Google Glass is only compatible with certain apps but Wear is automatically best friends with any app you have on your smartphone - you don't even need to install it on the smartwatch. Read: The future of apps for smartglasses.
Ok Glass has a camera and is also about capturing moments but Samsung has proved that a smartwatch can have a camera with its Gear devices so it's not out of the question for a future Android Wear device should it bother you. I couldn't care less.
Speaking of the camera, the fact Google Glass has one pointing at whatever you're looking causes all kinds of issues – namely privacy and security. It cool wearing one for sure and I can say that because I've tried Glass several times. However, I would feel totally weird and self-conscious going out and about with them on. Even if you are comfortable, the way other people react probably won't match.
Since smart glasses are still very much in their infancy as a technology category it's far more socially acceptable to go around wearing a smartwatch and it will be this way a long time yet. Buying and going out with Glass suddenly draws a lot of attention. You're the person wearing Glass, a computer on your face which a lot of people won't have seen in public or even ever before. See also: Does Google Glass pose safety, health and security risks?
Wearing a smartwatch, you can go about your daily life as usual. Eat at a restaurant, drive your car, and watch a film at the cinema - whatever it might be. Wearing Glass isn't acceptable or appropriate in many of these situations so is far more restrictive. It's only been a week since launch in the UK and Glass has already been banned from cinemas.
Why bother with Glass?
Android Wear devices do pretty much everything Glass can do in a physical product which you can wear without feeling stupid or scared and at a price you can afford. Still fancy a pair of Google Glass?