When it come to innovating in the world of technology, Google is one of the best. Between modular phones and self-driving cars, it seems like the company can achieve anything. Two of Google's latest projects that have been getting a lot of news lately and will hopefully be getting even more soon are Google Glass and Android Wear. Both of these new wearable platforms have shown incredible advancements over the competition and have a lot of promise in the near future. The problem with Google creating Glass and Android Wear is that they both have very similar features and could make the use of the other redundant.
Google Glass has been known about since early 2012 and developers started getting their hands on the hardware in mid 2013. In the last year we have seen major software changes to the platform and plenty of amazing Glassware built by developers. The whole point of the Explorer Program is to allow developers to create a decent amount of applications for the device before it goes on sale for the general public.
Android Wear is something that was just announced months ago. Instead of a wearable that is strapped to the users head, it comes in a more traditional watch format. When the platform was announced, we were immediately introduced to the Moto 360 and the LG G Watch which would be the first hardware devices to come to market using the new Android operating system. While developers have not been able to hold a physical Android Wear device, Google did a great job of releasing an emulator and making tools available so that anyone that wanted to start building for the platform had the ability to since day one.
The issue that comes from Google developing both platforms is that they generally do the same thing. On either platform the user can call up different commands through voice actions, view notifications, and use all of Google's other features like Play Music, Maps, and even Google Search. The two main differences are the user experience and the form factor of each product. It is obvious that the two products are different in the user interface department since Google[X] built the Glass software on top of previous versions of Android while the Android Team created a whole new version of Android for the Wear experience. I am hoping that someday Project Glass will be handed to the Android Team to develop the operating system for the hardware or at least have the two devices run in a similar fashion. As far as the form factor, it is obvious that the two teams had two different answers on how they felt wearables should be worn and used.
So the question is if both of these products do almost the same thing, why is Google continuing to work on both platforms? While Glass is worn on the head and allows the user to use their device without having to look down and dislocate themselves from the world, there are obvious social norms that are broken by staring upward at a screen floating right above your eye. While Android Wear devices are more normal looking since people have been wearing watches for centuries, the user loses the ability to make calls and have a heads up display available when they obviously cannot look down.
While it could be possible that Google just plans to bring their wearables to the market and allowing customers to choose their preferred form factor, I could see one scenario where the two could work perfectly together but it would mean getting rid of the phone as we know it today. In this scenario, I could see the watch being the cell phone with all of its radios and large functional screen while Glass is used for everything as far as calls, navigating, and any other functions that the user would want to do completely hands free. While this would have to completely revolutionize the way people think about their cell phones, it could just work.