Ahead of the release of Apple’s much rumored “iWatch” wearable product, Google has now officially announced Android’s entrance into wearables with project “Android Wear.” The Android Wear SDK allows developers to integrate a number of features into Android powered wearables and relies heavily on Google Now functionality, as we were first to report late last year.

Google also confirmed that it’s working with a handful of partners to bring Android Wear powered wearables to market by later this year:

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Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung; chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm; and fashion brands like the Fossil Group to bring you watches powered by Android Wear later this year.’

What can developers do with Android Wear? Google says the devices will be capable of displaying, for example, the latest posts and updates from social and messaging apps, answers via “OK Google” voice commands and Google Now-like functionality, as well as a number of fitness and health related data points. Google is also allowing Android Wear devices to talk with other devices like your phone or Chrome device through voice commands:

Your key to a multiscreen world. Android Wear lets you access and control other devices from your wrist. Just say “Ok Google” to fire up a music playlist on your phone, or cast your favorite movie to your TV. There’s a lot of possibilities here so we’re eager to see what developers build.

Last year, we were first to report that Google was planning on releasing wearables that would heavily rely on Google Now functionality. Another hint came when Google picked up WIMM Labs last year, a company that was building a slick Android based smartwatch SDK.

We reported as far back as July of last year that Apple had begun assembling a team of sensor and fitness experts to work under key Apple executives on its much rumored wearables project. Since, has Apple continued to hire other experts from medical and fitness fields with experience in everything from sensor-packed medical monitoring devices to biomedical technologies, glucose sensors, and general fitness devices. Most recently we revealed Apple’s in-development fitness and health app codenamed “Healthbook” that would be capable of tracking fitness related statistics and monitoring vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate, hydration levels and more.

Google is releasing a developer preview starting today that can be downloaded from developer.android.com/wear that will allow devs to bring features from their existing Android apps to to smartwatches and other wearables that are running Android Wear. Google posted another video (below) announcing the developer preview releasing today:

More details on 9to5Google.com

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