One main concern behind smartwatches nowadays is privacy protection. After all, smartwatches run operating systems and prove to be computers in the same way that smartphones and tablets are -- and anything with an operating system and apps needs protection from hackers and prying eyes. Android Wear is a wearables platform owned by Google, and, if you've been aware, Google isn't exactly the most privacy-friendly company when it comes to mobile user data. The company makes money from mobile adds and user data.
If you think I'm joking, ponder why Google claims Allo, its new messaging service, is encrypted but has to be turned on (rather than enabled automatically). Google Hangouts has no encryption whatsoever. Google just recently added two-factor authentication to Android Wear, however, so the search engine giant is making some steps in the right direction (though encryption is a must when it comes to wearables; anything less isn't good enough).
Well, Google runs Android Wear the same way it runs Android (tech enthusiasts say), so there needs to be something more in the way of user protection. What Android Wear may need is an alternative to make the experience more privacy-friendly (Huawei may even be searching for this same thing). To this end, developer Florent Revest has announced that his Android Wear alternative, AsteroidOS, is now in "alpha" mode and is available for download.
Alpha 1.0 is a work that's been two years in the making, Revest says. As you can see from the video below, a lot of settings and functionality (weather, alarm clock, stop clock, Bluetooth, wallpapers, watchfaces, calculator, music, agenda, etc.) are available in AsteroidOS. "Many users believe that the current proprietary platforms can not guarantee a satisfactory level of control over their privacy and hardware. Hence, I noticed a need for an open wearable platform and AsteroidOS is my attempt to address this issue," Revest informs.
So, AsteroidOS addresses privacy with the basic functionality that smartwatch users demand today. The next question becomes, however, "which smartwatches work with AsteroidOS currently?" The answer is 4 watches: 1) LG G Watch, 2) G Watch Urbane, 3) Asus ZenWatch 2, and 4) Sony Smartwatch 3. So, if you have an Android Wear smartwatch outside of those, such as a Motorola Moto 360, you're out of luck. AsteroidOS, in its alpha form, is really for developers -- but, if you're a tinkerer at heart, you could always try it out and see.
I'm excited about AsteroidOS as a privacy-friendly operating system, and look forward to a more massive release of the OS to more than just 4 Android Wear smartwatches. Write in and let us know if you'd like to see Android Wear and other wearables platforms become more privacy-friendly and respect user data.