Android Wear Gets Major Update

Last Edited: May 21, 2016 | Published: May 21, 2016 by


Google’s Android Wear smartwatch operating system is now about two years old, but it still hasn’t wowed consumers and really caught on, especially when you compare it to the likes of the Apple Watch. Now, Google hopes to change that with the release of the biggest update to the operating system to date, dubbed Android Wear 2.0.

The new OS brings many new improvements over its predecessor, including new standalone apps that can run without the need to pair it to a smartphone. According to Google, which announced the major update at Google’s I/O Conference, the new operating system offers many new improvements over the previous version.

“Today at Google I/O, we announced the most significant Android Wear update since its launch two years ago: Android Wear 2.0. Based on what we’ve learned from users and developers, we’re evolving the platform to improve key experiences on the watch, including watch faces, messaging, and fitness.”

So exactly what are all the new improvements? Here is a quick list from Google:

  • Standalone apps
  • New user interface
  • Material Design for Wearables
  • Complications API
  • New Input Methods
  • New Messaging Notifications
  • Google Fit Platform
  • Support for Android N

As you can see, there are quite a few new enhancements. The biggest, of course, is definitely the standalone apps. These apps allow you to use your smartwatch without the need of the phone. However, there is a catch. In order to use some of these apps, you will need an Internet connection. That means you will need access to Wi-Fi or you will need a plan for your smartwatch, unless you can tether it to your phone for connectivity. Of course, if you do that, why bother with the standalone apps?

Another interesting new feature is the improved messaging notifications and responses. Now you can reply to your messages by typing them out instead of just using canned or voice responses. This brings it in line with the Samsung Gear S2 and brings it ahead of the Apple Watch which only allows canned, voiced or emoji responses.

You will also be able to make use of Google Fit by importing information from third party apps such as your steps, calories burned and more. The first version of Android Wear allowed this on a limited number of watch faces but with 2.0, you can add them to any watch face that you like.

Currently, Android Wear users will have to wait until the fall in order to install it on their devices. However, there is a developer preview that is available now for you to test, although your options here are limited. “The Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview includes an updated SDK with tools, and system images for testing on the official Android emulator, the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, and the Huawei Watch.”

What do you think about this latest news for Android based smartwatches? Do you think Google will be able to play catch up to Apple on this platform, or is it too little, too late. Give me your thoughts in the comments below.

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