Google I/O 2016: Google delivers biggest update to wearable platform since its launch 2 years ago, adding new APIs, user interface changes and apps
Android Wear 2.0 will arrive this autumn complete with a host of user interface enhancements and the ability to support standalone apps, giving wearables more independence from a paired smartphone.
The new version is the most significant update to Google’s wearable mobile operating system since it launched two years ago and is available as a developer preview immediately, the company confirmed at its Google I/O event in California.
The requirement for developers to use Data Layer APIs has been removed, meaning Android Wear devices can now access the Internet directly over a Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G connection. This means apps will still function whether a paired smartphone is out of range or switched off and work the same whether they are connected to an Android or iOS handset.
Android Wear 2.0
Google has also added a new notification design, allowing users to take actions directly from alerts, a new face picker, app launcher and dark colour palette that it claims makes better use of round smartwatch designs.
Developers now have new ‘Complication’ APIs that lets them publish data to a wide range of faces and new input methods, including keyboard and handwriting. An update to Google Fit will make it easier for applications to use fitness data.
Naturally there is also support for the upcoming Android N update.
Android Wear has received a series of incremental updates since it was first announced in 2014, with iOS and Wi-Fi support just some of the features added post-launch. Manufacturers of Android Wear devices compete with the Apple Watch which is considered to the best-selling smartwatch of all time despite the fact Apple is less than transparent with sales figures.
The wearable market is expected to continue to grow in 2016. IDC recently estimated that 45.7 million wearable devices would be sold this year, up 133.4 percent from last year’s figure. By 2019, the research firm predicts 126.1 million units will be sold each year.