It’s been over a month since Asus announced the Zen Watch, which is due sometime before the holiday shopping season hits. Though Asus has kept relatively quiet about its first stab at the wearables market, Google has offered us an interesting tidbit about the device.
Speaking to Recode, Google engineering VP Hiroshi Lockheimer said that the Zen Watch will be the first example of the ways in which hardware manufacturers can customize the software on Android Wear watches. Up until now, Google hasn’t allowed any customizations on Android Wear devices, so this marks quite a change in attitude for Google. But apparently Google always planned to open things up.
“It’s not some Google-way-or-the-highway kind of thing,” Lockheimer is quoted as saying. He went on to say that Google just wanted to make sure it had the basics right before it allowed hardware partners to add deeper customizations.
When Asus announced the Zen Watch at IFA in September, the company revealed that the device would feature ‘Smart Companion’ capabilities thanks to integration with the Asus ZenUI. This included a Find My Phone feature, as well as the ability to unlock your phone with your watch remotely or use the device as a remote for your phone’s camera.
At the time, Asus specified that all of this would require special apps from Asus to be installed on your phone (ZenWatch Camera, ZenWatch Manager, ZenWatch Remote Link, etc.), and many assumed that this meant Asus had come up with a clever way to sidestep Google’s strict no-customizations policy. Something similar to how it’s possible to run custom watch faces, despite the lack of a custom watch face API, by pushing them to your watch from an app on your smartphone. Apparently not.
With this new information, we’re pretty excited to see the Zen Watch and the customizations Asus has in place. This could be the start of a whole new chapter for Android Wear.