The ecosystem for smartwatches continues to grow at an incredible pace. We have plenty of new platforms emerging this year in the smartwatch space. Somehow, there hasn’t been anywhere near enough discussion about the confusion for developers trying to choose which platforms to develop for. In this article, I’ll provide an overview of some of the smartwatch platforms I’m finding intriguing this year – both ones that are currently available and ones that are coming soon.
Regular readers here at SitePoint will be well aware of my fondness for the Pebble smartwatch. I’ve found it to be a very fun platform to develop for and it has a really lovely community behind it. Last month, Pebble announced their latest variation of the Pebble – the Pebble Time Round. It is both round and extremely thin, providing a new form factor for those who were a bit hesitant to wear the earlier rectangular Pebble watches. I covered what developers need to know about the Pebble Time Round last week for those who’d like more info.
Pebble Time smartwatches also have the ability to use “smartstraps” which can add new functionality and features to the watch such as extra battery life, GPS and more. Pebble developers are not limited to just software and the potential of smartstraps is huge.
Don’t have one but want to try out the platform? Pebble also have a browser based emulator you can develop with over at CloudPebble.
Google have a range of smartwatches that now run their Android Wear OS in various shapes and sizes. There are rectangular options like the ASUS ZenWatch 2 and round options like the LG G Watch R (pictured above). These watches come with touchscreens, OLED displays with plenty of color and a slightly lower battery life. Some also come with Wi-Fi so that your phone and watch can be further apart from each other and still be connected.
Coding for the Android Wear ecosystem is done in Java just like Android development. You’ll need a companion Android app with the same name to run on the phone itself, so Android Wear watchapps are more like extensions to Android apps. Android Wear recently announced support for iOS, however third-party iOS apps are not supported.
If you don’t have an Android Wear watch, you can still develop using an emulator in AVD Manager (the same area you can find an emulator for Android handheld devices).
Official Site: Android Wear
Developer Docs: Android Developer Resources
Devices: ASUS ZenWatch, ASUS ZenWatch 2, LG G Watch, LG G Watch R, LG Watch Urbane, Huawei Watch, Moto 360
Compatible with: Android and iOS (slightly limited on iOS)
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