Wearables were everywhere today at Google I/O, but there was only one truly new product announced: the Gear Live, Samsung's Android Wear-running smartwatch. And we've had a chance to spend a few minutes playing with a demo unit — it's only able to do a few things right now, but we have our best sense yet of what Android Wear hardware and software will look like. This is one of the key devices for Android Wear, one of the watches being given to all attendees of the conference, and at first glance it's quite nice.
The Gear Live is big, as most Android Wear watches seem to be, but it's quite well-made. It has a big, bright display, chrome everywhere, and a big rubbery band — it all looks a lot like the latest Gear 2, and that's certainly no accident. There's only one obvious button, and the only other things except screen and bezel are the heart-rate monitor and pins on the bottom for wireless charging. There's a big bezel around the 1.63-inch display, and the screen itself is a little bit washed out — and it's also hard to read in direct light. There's a slightly complicated clasp on the watch, but once it's on the whole thing feels more or less like a Pebble or any similar smartwatch. This is basically a cleaned-up version of the Gear 2 running Android Wear instead of Tizen.
On the software front, it's hard to say how accurate a demo we've received — the Gear Live was in "retail mode," and could only do a few things. But swipes and taps registered quickly and accurately, and we were moving between weather and messages in no time. And, even in a remarkably crowded room full of Google developers, it heard our "OK Google Now" commands every time.
The Gear Live is available for pre-order today. It'll ship on July 7th, and costs $199. We're intrigued.