Google has just launched the public release of Android Wear 2.0. This new update aims to provide needed improvements and useful features. LG has already launched two new smartwatches LG Watch Style and the LG Watch Sport running on Android Wear 2.0 out of the box. Now the updated platform and both of these devices are available. Android Wear 2.0 will roll out to supported devices in coming months starting From February 15.
To make it easy to understand what new things Android 2.0 brings, I have listed everything you should know about Android Wear 2.0.
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Here’s everything you should know about Android Wear 2.0
This is the biggest change coming to your smartwatches with Android wear 2.0. Now it supports standalone apps. So, you won’t need your phone nearby to send data to your smartwatch. Your watch will be fully functional without your smartphone. Your phone will be used only when it sync data.
In this way, your smartwatch will be more independent. You can browse and download apps from Google Play store over the WiFi without needing your phone.
With Android Wear 2.0, Google Assistant has come to your Android smartwatches. We already know how useful Google Assistant is.
With Google Assistant, users will be able to perform a lot more with voice commands. You can get answers to your queries, book tickets, make restaurant reservations, respond to messages and get assistance with navigation
Improved smartwatch faces
Smartwatch faces are not new, but Android 2.0 allows developers to include data from other apps on their watch faces. So, you will also see important data along with regular minutes and hours. So watch faces will be like the home page containing useful widgets like fitness data, weather forecast and more.
Now smartwatches will be able to make payments if it is packed with NFC chips. With Android wear 2.0, smartwatches now support Apple Pay and Samsung Pay like services.
To make payments, you just ned to hold the watch next to the terminal until the transaction is approved. After payment is done, you will be shown the transaction details on your smartwatch.
The material design has finally landed to the smartwatches but with a number of tweaks and optimizations to match the limited display size.
There is a new app launcher called “curved layout” to suit the rounded display. It also offers a circular scrolling gesture to flick between objects. The navigation drawer appears at the top of the screen and action drawer appears at the bottom of the screen.
Improved messaging and input
Android Wear has received a huge update for input and now supports handwriting, keyboard input, and a Smart Reply feature. The smart reply feature is same as in Inbox or Allo. It is powered by Google’s machine learning algorithms to give three quick responses to any message.
Developers can also create custom input methods by using the Android Wear 2.0 API.
Notifications have also been upgraded to give you the better experience. Now it will no longer match the watch face to look clutter. It will come with a contextual colored background depending on the application. Instead of a large card, a smaller notification icon will appear.
The notifications cards have also been redesigned in a way to save battery life and provide cleaner look and feel.
Fitness tracking is an important feature of smartwatches. So Google has tried to give it an overhaul to make Android Wear smartwatches better to track your fitness goals and manage your fitness data. It also includes the addition of individual activity counting within Fit – think press-up reps and the like.
If you love to working out with music, it is now much easier to launch workout playlist and your phone does not even need to be turned on.
These were few important changes you must know about Android Wear 2.0. Android Wear 2.0 will not be available every Android Wear smartwatches. Older devices such as the original Moto 360 and the LG G watch are not supported. I will update the list of supported devices soon in a different article.
Android smartwatches are facing touch competition from Apple and Samsung. So, Android Wear 2.0 will play an important role over the next few months. Apple’s watchOS or Samsung’s Tizen are much popular. So, Android wear 2.0 will also play a main role to define the future of Android smartwatches.