Google I/O 2016 brought with it many big announcements and changes when it comes to all things Android. Besides some huge announcements relating to Daydream and Google’s new messaging apps, a lot has happened in the world of Android Wear 2.0 as well.
Although it won’t be released to the public until this Fall, we’ve rounded up the five key new features for the wearable platform that Google is introducing this year:
One of the most significant improvements to Android Wear 2.0 is that watches can now be standalone. That means they can communicate directly over the internet via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular (if your smartwatch supports it). No longer being reliant on a tethered phone should speed up the process. It’s sure to be a particular advantage to Android Wear watch owners who also have iPhones.
They can now download third party apps straight to their watch—something that they were missing out on through iOS connectivity. Bear in mind though, older hardware might not be compatible with this feature.
Third party app developers can now offer more features on their Android Wear watch faces. You’ll be able to view a plethora of different data from a third party app now, such as Spotify and Google Fit, all available to interact with directly. Besides speeding things up and allowing you to get straight to what’s important to you, it should provide some more stylish watch faces in the long term too.
Loosely tying into improved watch faces, Android Wear is also having a stylish redesign. Notification cards have been designed to be light text on a black background, instead of the other way round, making it easier to see and conserving battery life.
More importantly, the app launcher has been redesigned to use a scrolling interface, making it simpler to use and tying neatly into the round watch faces favored by the devices. Don’t worry, square Android wear watch owners, it’ll still look pretty good on there too.
Anyone who’s tried to relay a message through voice dictation alone or by using the predefined replies, knows it’s not easy. Android Wear 2.0 adds two new input methods that makes things so much simpler. You can now use a small swipe-style on-screen keyboard to type, using a mixture of gestures and autocomplete.
You can also trace a few words out via its new handwriting recognition feature. It’ll even detect hand-drawn emoji. It might still end up a little clunky, but extra options are always welcomed when you need to write up a quick message.
The fitness tracking market is a hotly contested one, and Google Fit just got a bit better. It now offers automatic activity recognition meaning it’ll figure out exactly what you’re up to. Just hopped on your bike? Strava will be automatically launched to track what you’re doing. It’ll even detect if you’re performing strength training exercises, such as push ups.
Alongside that, Android Wear 2.0 will be able to more effectively share such information with other fitness apps, meaning with the right combination of apps, you’ll always know just when you should be eating, drinking, or working out.