The Aegis bitcoin wallet now includes support for Android Wear – Google’s new operating system (OS) for wearable devices – making it the first available bitcoin wallet for the platform.
For now, Aegis Wallet Wear brings limited wallet functionality to Android wearables and lacks the ability to make payments, but the smartwatch form factor promises a number of new possibilities for bitcoin users in the near future.
Additionally, since it is a free, open-source project, developers can use Aegis' code in their own projects.
While Google’s new platform is still very young – Android Wear launched just six months ago and adoption is still limited – the trickle of smart watches using its OS is likely to turn into a torrent in coming months.
A wallet on your wrist
A number of Android Wear watches are in the pipeline, with a few models already shipping. Aegis' app is designed to work on all of them, its developers say, including round-form devices such as Motorola’s Moto 360 and LG’s G Watch R.
The app allows users to keep track of the bitcoin price and the user's wallet balance, as well as delivering relevant notifications, such as sending an alert when bitcoin transactions have occurred.
If the user wishes to receive a payment, the watch can also be used to display a QR code with the bitcoin address of the wallet. However, payments cannot yet be made with the app due to limitations of the host watches.
'Touchless' NFC functionality could potentially prove a useful addition for making transactions between devices and transacting with merchant point-of-sales systems, but is lacking for the time being.
Bojan Simic, the founder of the open-source Bitcoin Security Project and developer of Aegis Wallet, explains:
“At the moment, Android watches lack NFC functionality, so that is certainly a limiting factor. However, it would be great if we could present a bitcoin transaction as a QR code and have a cashier scan our watch. Existing payment systems such as LevelUp do this already, and it would be great to implement the same for bitcoin payments.”
Simic pointed out that this feature would require support from merchants and existing payment platforms, but indicated that the firm has plans to implement it in its wearable wallet anyway.
Simic said he believes wearables have the potential to change a number of industries and bring new authentication technologies to mainstream users.
He pointed to the Nymi smart wristband, which tracks the user’s electrocardiogram (ECG) for authentication, as an example of a security-focused wearable. In the future, smartwatches, wristband and glasses will help people keep their money and personal data more secure, said Simic, adding:
“Bitcoin is certainly only one application for two-factor authentication using wearables and there are limitless possibilities ranging from turning on cars to opening doors. I'm sure that there are also countless possibilities we haven't even thought of yet.”
Limited battery life, which plagues the current generation of smart wearable devices, is not a big concern in the long run, he said. Wearables are becoming increasingly efficient and these days people often have access to a charger anywhere they go.
Simic also pointed out that he and his team work on bitcoin projects for no financial gain and are committed to keeping their software open source, as their contribution to the bitcoin community.
Images via Aegis Wallet and Google Play