Google is softening its stance toward customization in Android Wear, saying device makers will have more ability to tweak the software over time. Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s vice president of engineering, told Re/code that Asus’ upcoming ZenWatch will show a glimpse of how additional customization might work. The watch, announced in September, has some extra features not found in other Android Wear devices, such as a customizable double-tap gesture and a cover to mute function.
Google is taking its versatile Android operating system into new places, like cars and watches and TVs. As part of that process, it’s also severely curtailing the degree to which hardware makers can tinker with the core parts of the software. In the first crop of Android Wear devices, for example, software customization has been largely limited to a few custom watch faces. Google insists it doesn’t have some grand plan to lock down Android — a common concern among device makers and others in the mobile industry. “It’s not some Google-way-or-the-highway kind of thing,” the company’s vice president of engineering Hiroshi Lockheimer said in an interview on Tuesday. His comments came as Google rolled out Android 5.0, a.k.a. Lollipop, which is designed to power a wide range of other devices beyond the usual phones and tablets.