Years after Australian-based engineers created Google’s online mapping system now used by millions, they’re doing it again, this time for the wrist.
Google senior product manager Andrew Foster revealed to News Corp the search giant’s Sydney team had once more taken the lead on mapping, creating a version of Google Maps for smartwatches.
The fresh application will change the way maps show up on Google-based watches, laying a chart over the watch’s full screen and revealing directions without the need to pluck a phone out of a pocket or handbag.
“We don’t just look at just building things for Australia but building innovations for the whole world,” Mr Foster said.
The new Maps application has begun rolling out to Android Wear smartwatches, with LG’s newly launched Watch Urbane receiving the app first, and six others now in line, including the Motorola Moto 360 and ASUS ZenWatch.
Mr Foster said the wrist-bound app had been designed in Sydney for pedestrians rather than drivers, and would feature the ability to zoom into a map and an “ambient” mode that would dim the screen to save battery.
“It will get the location from the phone and then deliver turn-by-turn directions to the smartwatch,” he said. “If you’re walking, for example, it could tell you turn right in 50m.”
The search giant will introduce more features to Android Wear smartwatches in the upcoming release, letting users move from one notification to the next with a flick of the wrist, draw an emoji on the screen with a finger to send it to a friend, and adding wi-fi support so smartwatches can show updates without a smartphone connected.
Google Android Wear director David Singleton recently revealed there were “more than 4,000 apps built specifically for Android Wear” and “many more” watches due for release this year.
The Google-powered smartwatches are now competing with those from Apple, however, which sold almost one million devices in its first day on the market.