Google will soon release a software development kit (SDK) for adapting its Android mobile operating system to wearable technology such as smart watches, according to statements by Sundar Pichai, Google’s Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome and Apps.
Pichai was speaking over the weekend at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas. He said that the SDK for wearables will be available sometime in the next two weeks and is intended to help flesh out the company’s vision for how wearable technology should work. The news was first reported here by The Guardian.
Wearables are just another “platform” on which small, powerful sensors will be deployed, he said. “Sensors can be small and powerful, and gather a lot of information that can be useful for users. We want to build the right APIs for this world of sensors,” he is quoted saying.
[Read more Security Ledger coverage of wearable technology here.]
SDKs speed development by providing standardized tools that application developers can use to write applications that will run on a specific platform. SDKs also allow Google to exert some measure of control over its platform. Developers who wish to use the SDK typically agree to adhere to guidelines laid out by the platform’s creator. In the case of Glass, developers agree not to collect certain types of personally identifiable information via their Glass app, to disclose any data breach to Google and to avoid creating applications that might promote the spread of malicious software.
Google helped pioneer the latest stage in wearable technology with Google Glass, which also runs the Android operating system. In May, 2013, the company published an API (application program interface) for Glass dubbed “Mirror” that allows third party application developers to create applications to run on Glass. However, there are limitations, including a ban on advertisements and facial recognition applications.
So far, companies like Facebook, Evernote and CNN have developed Glass applications.
There has been speculation that Google may test out additional wearable platforms, including a smart watch. (LG is rumored to be building such a device for Google.) The publication of an SDK could go hand in hand with the launch of a new device, though Pichai was noncommittal in his SXSW appearance when asked about Google ambitions beyond Glass.
“From my standpoint and the team’s standpoint, we want to focus on the platform and the APIs,” he is quoted saying.
The company is just as likely to want to promote its Android operating system as the go-to OS for a fast growing world of wearable devices, just as Android grew quickly to dominate the mobile phone space since its first release in 2007. Android now accounts for more than 70% of cellphone operating systems in the final quarter of 2013.
SXSW started as a music festival. But these days it has a substantial interactive component, which has been going over the weekend and runs through Tuesday. We’ll keep an eye for other security and Internet of Things related news coming out of the festival!