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Saturday, 3 January 2015

Flappy Bird's Android Wear App Challenges Apple Watch............

Just as Flappy Bird signalled the lopsided nature of the software market during the early months of 2014, its arrival on your Android Wear powered smartwatch points to the strengths of Google’s approach to wearables, and how it will contrast with Apple’s strategy.
To be clear, the original coder of Flappy Bird has not developed the Android Wear version. Instead, hacker Corbin Davenport has been tinkering with his smartwatch to run not just Flappy Bird, but a number of other ‘big name, big impact’ apps on the platform including Minecraft, Doom, and Windows 95 (reports Chris Chavez of Phandroid).
It’s a non-trivial process, far from the one-click install available via Google Play, but it does work. This shows one of the benefits of Android as an open system. Because people know how Android works, if they want to do something with their own hardware, they can. In this case Android Wear is a powerful touch-screen computer in its own right. Why shouldn’t I be able to do whatever I want with a wrist based computer that, to stay with a classic image, is far more powerful than the computers we used to land on the Moon?
Android Wear Screens (image: Google)
Android Wear Screens (image: Google)
Google’s vision of Android Wear is relatively clear. It is a second screen to your main Android device (be it a smartphone, phablet, or ultraportable), it will give you rich notifications you can act on from your wrist, and it will present you with relevant and timely information.
Which is all fine and good if that’s exactly what you want from a smartphone. For many that will be enough. But wearables, more than smartphones, are going to be incredibly personal experiences. Third-party software will extend functionality, and while many of those apps will fit into Google’s vision of a wearable (which in part is about pushing people to use Android for everything so their eyeballs can be sold to advertisers), the ability to push outside of that envelope – as demonstrated by Davenport’s Flappy Bird port – will be one of the key differentiators in the long-expected Android Wear vs Apple Watch discussions that will pop up later this year.
The Apple Watch (Courtesy of Apple)
The Apple Watch (Courtesy of Apple)
Once more it comes down to Apple’s unifying and strictly implemented vision, against Google’s more accessible vision that allows far more experimentation and customisation at every level of the product chain. It’s not going to be a symmetrical fight, with Apple’s trump card coming down to fashion and status symbol, and Google playing the software card.
If you are picking up a smartwatch to be seen with a smartwatch, then the high-end Apple Watch will be your hardware of choice (with some unit prices likely to break $10,000). But if you are looking for utility, software, and a chaotic collection that you can tailor to yourself, Android Wear is looking more and more attractive.
Both sides can ‘win’, so which side are you most looking forward to?