Google prepares for Apple Watch war with major update
Google will release a major update for Android Wear, enabling Wi-Fi support, gesture controls as well as a lower power ‘always on’ mode for developers.
Until now, Android Wear devices have relied on a constant connection to a smartphone via Bluetooth, despite many smartwatches having Wi-Fi connectivity.
A paired smartphone is still required, but users can now receive notifications and send messages using a wireless connection if their handset is too far away.
Android Wear update
New gestures allow users to control their device by flicking their wrist, while apps and contacts have been moved to within a tap away from the watch face. Another notable feature is the inclusion of a ‘hand drawn’ Emoji capability, which attempts to convert random scribblings into something more visual and sends it via a message or text.
Developers can now make their applications ‘always on’ thanks to a new low power setting which is currently used for the watch face. Apps such as shopping lists or maps can be permanently displayed on the watch in black and white to save battery, only switching to full colour when the user is looking directly at the device.
The update will be rolled out to all existing Android Wear smartwatches and will come preloaded on the LG Watch Urbane. Google hopes these new features will allow its partners to better compete against the likes of Pebble, the Tizen-powered Samsung Gear series and especially the Apple Watch, which was finally released to the public earlier this month.
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