Android Wear Adds Customizable Faces to Its Smart Watches

You can now Rebecca Minkoff-y your Moto 360.
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Eliza Brooke
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You can now Rebecca Minkoff-y your Moto 360.
Imagine the possibilities. Photo: Google

Imagine the possibilities. Photo: Google

When Apple unveiled the forthcoming Apple Watch this September, it made a big deal of catering to customization, showing off a wide array of bands and metals so that each person with the device could make it his or her own. It had to: personalization was a big question leading up to the announcement, because it would be a determining factor in how broad a swath of the consumer population Apple would be able to hook.

Google's Android Wear made the same pitch when it launched six entirely different styles of watches this summer, made in conjunction with partners like Sony and Samsung. Now it's taking the customization options a step further, with a slew of roughly 50 downloadable watch faces from brands like Rebecca Minkoff and Porsche available in the Google Play store, starting today.

Android Wear teamed up with those companies partly to show other developers what's possible, says Jeff Chang, the senior product manager for Android Wear. The division opened up its SDK earlier this summer, making it possible for developers to create their own apps specifically for this platform. 

What's cool is that the watch faces can tap into some of the apps and sensory data that the device is gathering. You can imagine what kind of visualizations a design-minded developer could create using the watch's step counter or barometer. According to Chang, the degree of access that a developer has to the watch's apps and data is controlled, though, so it's not a complete free-for-all.

This launch is part of a broader software update, including a feature that easily dials up the screen's brightness when you step out into direct sunlight (and, conversely, one that dials it down and turns off the sound in a movie theater). 

Homepage photo: Stephen Lam/Getty images