Skip the navigation

New tools and hardware are on developers' wish lists at Google I/O

The conference kicks off in San Francisco on Wednesday

By Mikael Ricknäs
June 24, 2014 10:23 AM ET

IDG News Service - Developers have Wear smartwatches, a stable version of the Android Studio development environment and a lightweight programming language on their wish lists ahead of the Google I/O conference.

Google's plan to extend the use of Android to new types of devices, including smartwatches, will be one of the main themes at this year's I/O conference. The smartwatches will run Wear, an extension of Android that's been customized for smaller screens.

Google is trying to drum up interest for the platform on its developer website before the arrival of the first devices, with blog posts on how applications can be customized for round displays and integration with smoke detectors from the company's Nest.

Getting developers excited about Wear is key to the future success of the platform. If Google and its partners can't offer a large variety of apps, they'll just end up with a regular watch, said Francisco Jeronimo, research director for European mobile devices at IDC.

Wear is a very new thing and it's still just a software preview, so you can't test anything on real hardware, according to Radek Simko, senior developer at U.K. publisher IPC Media. But that will hopefully change at I/O, he said.

Simko is likely to get his wish; Motorola's Moto 360 and the G Watch from LG Electronics are both expected to appear at the conference. In previous years, Google has handed out tablets, smartphones and Chromebooks to attendees, and it wouldn't be a surprise if they got a smartwatch this year.

Another product Google will focus on is Glass, which is being sold in the U.S. and the U.K. At I/O, Google is hosting sessions on how to develop and distribute apps for that wearable computer.

An Android developer can begin building apps for Glass straight away, since there are just a few new concepts to learn. Starting a project in Android Studio is easy and works in the same way as when writing a regular app, according to PA$?r SikAP, conference manager at Aredev, a major developer conference in Scandinavia.

Because the number of developers working on Glass apps is very limited, there isn't the same amount of help available online.

"You're really alone with some problems," SikAP said.

The hardware still leaves a lot to be desired. The battery time is nowhere near as good as it needs to be; the navigation can sometimes be a little awkward; and it takes too long for the device to respond to voice commands, according to SikAP. But even with these drawbacks, he's optimistic about the future.

"Today's Google Glass is only the beginning of something much bigger. In five years they will look completely different, much nicer and more discreet," SikAP said.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
Our Commenting Policies