Android Wear is heading to China (but not as we know it)

Google, Lenovo and Motorola are making the impossible happen
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The Moto 360 is launching in China, but not as we know it. The Android Wear smartwatch, announced by Lenovo at its IFA 2015 event, is getting another important version - to add to the existing Sport model and smaller women's sizes: the de-Googled Moto 360.

We haven't seen Android Wear in China until now because Google's services - search, Maps, the Play store, and Now - are not available in the country. To get around this and capitalise on a growing demand for wearables, including smartwatches, Google has modified the platform.

Read this: Motorola Moto 360 2 - everything you need to know

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The new Moto 360 for China will use local services: Sogou, for mapping, and Mobvoi for search and voice recognition, according to The Verge.

Now, Mobvoi is a sensible choice as the startup already raised $1.3 million for its round Chinese smartwatch, designed by Frog Design, the Ticwatch. Chumen Wenwen, its search and voice service, is already used by popular messaging app WeChat as well as Dianping, China's answer to Yelp.

Changes to Android Wear include replacing "OK Google" with "Ni hao Android" and Google Play will be replaced by local app stores.

This is an interesting move for Google - until now, it hasn't allowed the likes of Samsung to make any real changes to Android Wear. Clearly, the Chinese market is too important for Google to stick to its tightly controlled vision for Wear that we've seen in the first 18 months.

It isn't open source yet, this new Moto 360 is the result of Lenovo and Google working together, but we could also soon see Google's services making a return to China. With analysts such as CCS Insight pointing to China as a key market for consumer awareness of wearables, moves like this could have a big impact on the entire future of wearable tech.


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Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

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