Google Rolls Out Android Car, Watch, TV

SAN FRANCISCO — Google wants you to embrace Android everywhere. I'm not just talking traditional vehicles for Google's mobile software platform such as tablets and smartphones. When I say vehicle, I mean an actual car, what with Google announcing Android Auto.

I mean on your wrist too. Google's vision is that you'll be ordering pizza on one of the new Android Wear smartwatches you can preorder starting today from LG and Samsung, with the Android Wear watch that has techies drooling, the Moto 360, not due out until later in the summer (drawing major groans from the Google I/O crowd).

Oh, and Google also has major designs on expanding its presence in the living room — with an integrated platform known as Android TV, which also leans on Google's work with Chrome.

Each of these areas looks promising but the challenges Google faces cannot be understated.

The company's ambitions for the car with Android Auto are no different than the ambitions of arch-rival Apple, which is pushing its own CarPlay initiative for unifying the way you receive notifications, music, navigation and other services at the wheel. It's premature to know which of these tech Goliaths will win (if either). And either way the outcome is miles down the road.

We know what the deal has been with wearable computers too. For all the endless chatter, aside from the niche successes achieved by companies delivering some fitness-oriented bracelets, none of the gizmos to date has taken the world by storm, not primitive smart watches and certainly not Google Glass (which Google barely mentioned during I/O).

Google's Android Wear watch demo on stage looked impressive enough. But the big test of whether such devices elevate the status of high tech timepieces beyond what we've seen so far also remains to be seen. Most nascent watches have been flawed or do little more than complement the smartphone in your pocket, which Google says you check more than 125 times a day on average. I like that you can use your voice to initiate actions on the watch. As a big promotional pitch coming out of I/O Google said it would give the watches out to conference attendees.

Speaking of the timepieces a quickie diversion: with Samsung embracing Android Wear with an upcoming Gear Live smartwatch, what does that suggest for its own Tizen platform, the one behind the company's recently launched Gear 2 watch?

And then there's TV. Again, Google's Android TV demos looked good, the way you search for and control content on your TV through your Android phone, especially using voice.

But Google has had a mixed track record in television. Early versions of the Google TV interface were justifiably panned and a bust, and despite improvements along the way, Google faces fierce competition here too. On the other hand, the $35 gadget that is Chromecast was much more widely embraced, and Google announced new partners and features for this small sett-top box at the I/O conference. So stay tuned. The plot lines have just gotten a lot more interesting.


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