Today, Google is doing one of the things Google likes to do — introducing a new standard. This time it's for watchbands. It's called "Mode" and the idea is pretty simple: Google is hoping to make it as easy to switch watch bands on Android Wear smartwatches as it is on the Apple Watch.
The first set of Mode bands from Hadley-Roma start at $49.99 for silicon bands and $59.99 for leather ones. They'll be compatible with any watch that uses standard lugs to attach the watch band. In fact, Mode just simplifies that standard lug system a bit. You attach the pins to your watch, and then each band simply has a small latch that you can open and close with a switch.
The Mode system is basically universal, though you will still have to get bands at the right width for your watch — they come in 16mm, 18mm, 20mm, and 22mm.
Google says that it is letting anybody use the "Mode" system, though they can only do so "as long as they source the MODE mechanism from Google authorized vendors, pass reliability testing and follow our brand guidelines." Hopefully, neither those guidelines nor the prices from those vendors will be too onerous, otherwise the whole Mode thing is going to be dead before it gets started.
As for why it's getting started, it's a pretty good bet that the success of Apple Watch bands has something to do with it. At its last event, Apple CEO Tim Cook said "about a third of our Apple Watch wearers regularly change their bands." We don't have similar numbers for Android Wear handy, but Google would surely like them to be slightly higher.
The bands from Hadley-Roma will be available on Amazon and in the Google Store.
Photography by Amelia Krales.