Google is going to get its foot back in the door in China, a country that has essentially had no Google services for several years. And it may start on the wrist with Android Wear.
Last week, reports surfaced that Google was working with the Chinese government to modify Android and the Google Play Store but details were lacking. Now, a Google engineer has explained some of the process as it pertains to Android Wear.
Speaking to The Verge on Tuesday, David Singleton, Engineering Director for Android, says that the Moto 360 smartwatch is coming to China through the effort of native company Lenovo, Motorola (which is owned by Lenovo), and Google.
The watch won't however be heavily tied to Google's apps and services, like it is in the rest of the world. Instead, key Google elements will be replaced by China-based offerings.
You won't say "OK, Google" to speak voice commands to China's Moto 360, for example.
"Ni hao Android" is the magic phrase to wake the watch and the voice services are powered by MobVoi, a Chinese company. MobVoi will also create a mapping app for the Moto 360 in China, which replaces Google's own Maps.
Singleton also says that third-party apps will be available for the Moto 360 in China, but not through the Google Play Store; or at least not the current version.
Localized app stores will provide software options although Google is said to be modifying its Play Store for China in hopes that a modified version of Google Android that China is happy with becomes available there.
The expected changes are vastly different than Google's current approach. Android Wear smartwatches, for example, are more locked down than even Google Android to provide a more consistent user experience and focus on Google's own apps and services.
As I noted last week, Google has to make such concessions if it wants to be a part of the China story. If it doesn't it, runs the risk of letting Apple win big in the world's most populous nation.