Rachel Metz

A View from Rachel Metz

New SDK Shows Google Really Wants to Get on Your Body

Google’s Android boss says a wearable SDK is coming. Here’s hoping it will be more popular than Glass.

  • March 10, 2014

The emergence of Google Glass made it clear that Google is keen to get into wearable computing, and an announcement yesterday by Android head Sundar Pichai makes it clear that the company doesn’t really care how that happens, as long as it still has a hand in the nascent market.

Speaking at the annual South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, Pichai said Google will offer a software development kit in two weeks that will let third-party developers use Android to run their wearable devices. The move is much more likely than Glass to make wearable devices part of the average person’s daily life, since it will allow developers to use the SDK to create all kinds of sensor-laden gadgets–smart watches, clothing, earrings, whatever–on their own timelines and budgets and with their own sense of style (Glass, on the other hand, costs $1,500, is extremely obvious-looking, finnicky, and still not publicly available.)

Google already did this kind of thing once with smartphones: Android arrived in 2008 and was the only OS aside from Apple’s iOS that managed to expand and capture a huge chunk of the market. With Google’s existing expertise in mobile software and developers’ familiarity with Android, a wearable SDK would require relatively little investment for a potentially big payoff if wearable gadgets grow as expected over the next several years (and this makes it even more likely that more developers will try their hand at making wearables, since many are already familiar with Android).

Reportedly, Pichai didn’t mention if Google is building any of its own non-Glass wearables with the SDK, but I’m willing to bet one of my plastic Android toys that, beyond its experimental contact-lens project computer project, there are some things in the pipeline (a smart watch has long been expected, at least, and could be revealed at the company’s next developer conference in June).

Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.
Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Connectivity

What it means to be constantly connected with each other and vast sources of information.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

You've read of free articles this month.