How Google's smartwatches will boost retail sales

Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) new Android phone features and Android Wear smartwatches are expected to boost consumer shopping and restaurant visits.

The tech giant unveiled the new features for software developers at its Google I/O 2014 Developer Conference on Wednesday. The LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live smartwatches running Google's software are available in the Google Play Store on Wednesday, while Motorola's Moto 360 watch will launch later in the summer.

While Google announced its Android Wear smartwatch back in March, it unveiled new features with retail implications at its Developer Conference. For example, David Singleton, director of engineering for Google, demoed an Eat 24 app that let him swipe to the pizza restaurant he wanted to order from, then swipe to decide what he wants to order, and then tap to pay. He ordered a pizza in about 20 seconds.

With the speed of Google's smartwatch technology, we can see how easy – and how quickly – consumers could order products from their favorite online retailers, as well as local stores and restaurants.

"We're right at the beginning of a new phase of the miniaturization of technology, which means it's finally possible to make a small computer that can fit comfortably on your body all day long," Singleton said, CNET reported.

Google is determined to get its place at the wearables table, which is exploding. By the end of this year, over 19 million wearable devices will ship worldwide, tripling last year's figure, according to market researcher IDC.

At the meeting, Google executives also announced Android One — an initiative from Google to produce reference devices that run stock Android and have auto installed and locally relevant apps. Notably, the first phone in this push will cost less than $100 and feature a 4.5-inch screen. This should give Apple, which boasts a significantly higher price tag for its iPhone, a run for its money.

They also introduced "personal locking", which lets users open their phones without a pattern lock or passcode by recognizing when users are in a location recognized as "safe," such as their homes or offices. The Android L phone will also be able to recognize when devices the user owns and wears are nearby. For example, if they are wearing an Android Wear watch, the phone will recognize this and let them unlock their phone with a swipe up rather than a passcode.

Also, links on the Web can now open up Android apps. One Google executive searched for a restaurant and an Open Table link opened up the Open Table app, rather than its mobile site, since the app was already installed on the demo device.

In another boon for retailers, searching in Chrome's search bar will not only suggest Web pages the user has searched for, but also apps they recently used.

For more:
-See this Wired article
-See this WSJ Digits blog post
-See this CNET article

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