ASUS ZenWatch to be first to sport OEM-modified Android Wear interface

As the number of available Android Wear devices grows, we are starting to see more variety when it comes to hardware. The same cannot be said on the software side as Google has so far prevented manufacturers from offering any other than a stock experience. Sure you can customize your watchface but little else is currently available to distinguish the software from one device to the next. That will change as Android Wear matures though and the first signs of this will come when the ASUS ZenWatch launches later this year.

Vice President of Engineering for Android Hiroshi Lockheimer told Re/code last week that, “It’s not some Google-way-or-the-highway kind of thing.” But rather than skinning Android Wear, Google is pushing manufacturers to develop custom apps as the way to differentiate their devices from those of the competition. “We’re trying to find the right balance of differentiation and customization,” Lockheimer explained. The ASUS ZenWatch will be the first device to give us a sense of how this will work.

While Lockheimer provided little in terms of specifics, ASUS revealed a few details back in September when it first announced the ZenWatch. It promises “a range of practical smart features, including Watch Unlock, Tap Tap, Remote Camera, Cover to Mute, Find My Phone and Presentation Control” as well as tighter integration with ASUS smartphones with “enhanced versions of exclusive ASUS ZenUI apps such as What’s Next and Do It Later.”

The ASUS ZenWatch is expected to launch later this month for less than US$199. It remains to be seen if and when we will see it in Canada.

On a side note, Lockheimer is also the latest Google executive to confirm that the Nexus program is not going anywhere soon. “That’s always going to continue,” he said. “You can’t build an OS in the abstract” he said. Rumours earlier this year had suggested that Google was about to replace the program with a new Android Silver program but apparently found little support for it among its hardware partners.

Source : Re/code