Android update will ease the way for more 'wearable' apps

Google is prepping an Android software development kit for wearable gadgets such as smart watches. 

Google founder Sergey Brin poses for a portrait wearing Google Glass glasses during New York Fashion Week in this September 9, 2012 file photo.

Google is prepping a software development kit, or SDK, that will allow developers to create apps for wearable gadgets, such as smart watches. 

In a panel discussion at the South by Southwest festival, in Austin, Texas, Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android and Chrome, said the free SDK would launch in two weeks. 

"When we think of wearables, we think of it as a platform. We see a world of sensors," Mr. Pichai said, according to the Inquirer. "Sensors can be small and powerful, and gather a lot of information that can be useful for users. We want to build the right APIs for this world of sensors." API stands for application programming interface – essentially a set of guidelines for developers. 

Google, of course, is expected to push its Glass smart spectacles into wide release later this year. The company is also reportedly working on a smart watch, which will use hardware built by LG. 

The so-called "wearables" market, which could eventually encompass everything from fitness bands to Sony's vibrating smart wig, is expected to grow significantly in coming years.

The analytics firm Canalys recently forecasted that shipments of fitness bands alone – a segment that includes the popular FitBit line – could hit 23 million shipments by 2015, and 45 million shipments by 2017. 

The pressure for Google to establish a foothold in this market is mounting. Apple is said to be working on a smart watch – one that could include a "solar-charging layer" – and Microsoft is also apparently exploring a line of wearables. The Verge has reported that the Microsoft effort will be led by Alex Kipman, the Microsoft staffer that helped lead the team that developed the Xbox Kinect sensor. 

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