Sony says 'thanks, but no thanks' to Android Wear
A lot of developers are excited by the prospect of Android Wear, Google’s upcoming platform for wearable devices such as smartwatches. Sony isn’t one of them: The electronics giant says it’s going to pass on making wearables using the Google offering.
Instead, Sony will stick with its own Android-based platform, as seen in the company’s SmartWatch 2. “We’ve already invested time and resources on this platform, and we will continue in that direction,” Ravi Nookala, Sony Mobile’s U.S. president, told Cnet.
Compared to Google, Sony is taking a much different approach to wearable software. While the SmartWatch 2 supports notifications, much of its functionality comes from apps that you can load into the watch itself. You can read through email, check Facebook, view your calendar, perform some calculations or even play solitaire. Essentially, Sony is taking the app-centric approach of smartphones and adapting it to the smaller screen.
Android Wear is more focused on notifications and voice controls, rather than full-blown apps. Users can swipe through their notifications and choose from a set of limited actions, such as deleting an email, responding to a text message by voice or storing an article for later reading. Users will be able to remotely control some aspects of their phones, such as music playback, and initiate certain actions by voice. But overall, the goal is to keep interaction to a minimum.
Time will tell which approach has greater appeal, though Google has lots of support on its side: Motorola, LG, Asus, HTC and Samsung are all on board as hardware partners, and traditional watchmaker Fossil is getting involved as well.
It’s possible that Sony just wants to avoid a situation where it can’t stand out from the pack, or doesn’t want to change course if there’s another SmartWatch already in the product pipeline. But if Google’s platform gains traction, there’s no reason why Sony couldn’t start hedging its bets with an Android Wear watch down the road.
Update 3:00pm: Sony sent Cnet a follow-up statement saying, “While we are currently focused on our in-market wearable offering, including SmartWatch 2, we continue to work closely with Google as a key partner and continue to evaluate opportunities across a number of areas as we extend our SmartWear Experience.”