Google’s new wearable operating system sees another update, to Android Wear 2.0, now out this autumn. It allows you to do everything Google’s Together watch face did, and more, rendering Together obsolete. With the list of supported watches (scroll down) growing, we take a look at the features and rumours surrounding its long anticipated release.
The interface is very different from conventional Android, and designed with much smaller devices and hands free use in mind. Think big, bold block menus and colours for simplified navigation. Wear 2.0 promises intuitive operation on your wrist, the apps list accessible with a short button push, and Google Now with a long push.
Reliance on tethering to handsets goes out the window too – as Wear now operates standalone apps, and accesses the internet independently. Previously Wear apps were extensions of their mobile phone counterparts and prone to slow, patchy tethering. While most other Wi-Fi enabled watches ease the internet access quandary somewhat for some issues, Wear’s compatibility with iOS allows iPhone users to pair with their Google Android Wear smartwatch – downloading apps to the watch directly using their iPhone. This makes up for the current lack of the inverse OS support.
A big feature for Wear is its updated messaging options, with keyboard input for watch typing, smart replies, handwriting support and voice options. All of these can eradicate the need to pull a handset from your pocket, particularly for quicker messages. The smart replies will gain accuracy the longer the device gets used, and the gestures take a short while to get used to.
Google fit apps make the watch a powerful tracker and on the Wear OS offer more watch face display information. Teething problems with launching dedicated apps for specific sporting activities have long been solved and should see them launched automatically with ease on devices in the fall.
Currently the Wear ecosystem is predicated around messaging, fitness and of course maximizing watch face usability. But following the trend toward accessible apps through wearable tech, gaming should no doubt soon follow. It is rumoured Pokémon Go will very soon be available on Android Wear. We could well be seeing poke battles carried out on watches and with the accessibility of games on the rise, the likes of MasterPieceCasinos could be joining the move of more and more accessible games to smartwatch format.