Android Wearable Population, Activities On Rise

If it wasn’t already clear before the keynote at its I/O developer conference, Google’s mobile strategy might be called Android Everywhere. The Internet giant unveiled a laundry list of products that embed its mobile operating system more deeply into smartwatches, TVs and cars. It also released the Android Wear OS widely so more developers can create apps for the watches.

In the wake of the I/O event, Nielsen Thursday released new research indicating a fivefold rise in the number of people using Android-powered Bluetooth devices between September 2013 and February 2014 to 2.5 million. The majority of wearable devices -- 60% -- that are accessed from Android smartphones are fitness trackers.

Smartwatches account for a quarter of the wearables owned by Android users, and 8% are mobile health gadgets. People used these gadgets an average of 14 times a month.

The study also looked at what else wearable users do on their smartphones. Most of their time was spent browsing the mobile Web or social networking. At 11 hours, 27 minutes, on average, in February, the latter activity was nearly three times the amount of time all users spent social networking on smartphones.

Wearable users are also more likely to use text messaging, search services, email and maps. But they’re much less likely to access music or video or use the camera than smartphone users overall. But wearable enthusiasts on balance are bigger bandwidth hogs. They use 9.49 gigabytes of data a month versus 5.61 for the average Android user.

Much was made of the fact that Google on Wednesday never mentioned Google Glass -- its best-known, if not widely used, wearable product. The Nielsen study did not mention the Google eyewear, either. A spokesperson at the media research firm said it had no metrics yet on Google Glass usage.

The Nielsen findings were collected using Electronic Mobile Measurement (EMM), its on-device software installed with permission on 5,000 panelist smartphones running either Android or iOS. 

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