Chinese search giant Baidu has quietly launched a voice search app specially built for Android Wear smartwatches. The Baidu Watch app accepts voice input and gives back a snippet of text that displays on a smartwatch screen. Users can opt to tap the watch screen to open up a normal web page on their smartphones.
“Android-based smartwatches don’t work smoothly in China and that might discourage people from buying smartwatches,” says Kaiser Kuo, Baidu’s director of international communications. That’s why Baidu decided to make the app for China’s smartwatch enthusiasts, he explains to Tech in Asia. Kuo adds that future updates to the Baidu Watch app will see more search result widgets optimized for the watch screen so that there’s less need to get more information from your smartphone. Plus, the team is working on simple reminders that a user can give themselves or even send to a friend. “Like, a reminder to drink more water,” Kuo says.
The new app supports six popular Android Wear-based watches like the Moto 360 and the Samsung Gear 2. But it doesn’t work with Chinese brand smartwatches, which tend to craft their own smartwatch ROMs out of full versions of Android, such as the GEAK Watch we reviewed last year. At the moment, it’s only available on Google Play, which is blocked in China, so this app is clearly only for true Android geeks who know their way around a proxy server. Kuo says that it will arrive in local third-party Android app stores soon.
While this is Baidu’s first foray into smartwatches, it’s certainly not the company’s first voice-based search app. In December 2012, Baidu launched a mobile voice assistant app – like Apple’s Siri or Google Now – called Baidu Voice Assistant.