It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here: Google has officially launched Android Wear 2.0, the evolutionary update to their wearable OS. Unlike the Android Mobile ecosystem, version 2.0 isn’t a incremental update – it’s a massive overhaul of Google’s smartwatch platform that throws in a brand-new design, on-watch playstore, a brand spanking new version of Google Fit, Android Pay and more. A lot has changed, so let’s get stuck in
Newer, Smarter Watch Faces
Google has changed how Android Wear’s watch faces work. Previously the amount of at-a-glance information was limited by your choice of watch face. This time around, you’ll be able to pin apps and other widgets on the watch face itself, giving you up-to-date information as soon as you glanced at your wrist. If you need more in-depth information about calories burned or if you want to call your significant other, for example, you just need to tap on the associated widget and it’ll take you there directly. What’s nice is that the different watch faces can store different widgets that you’d want to use throughout the day, and you can just switch to them quickly and easily.
App store on your wrist
Google’s implementation of apps for Android Wear devices was never really that elegant, and Android Wear 2.0 changes that by including an on-watch Google Play Store. If your watch has a cellular connection, you can now take and make calls directly from it no matter where your phone is, and use your watch’s full functionality even if your phone’s away. You’ll also now able to respond to a message by expanding the notification and dictating, typing or handwriting your answer. The watch also supports Smart Reply, which suggests replies based on the context of the message. It’s powered by Google’s scarily accurate machine learning algorithm that powers Google’s Allo.
Google also overhauled Google Fit, the pre-installed fitness app on Android Wear 2.0. It now lets you track pace, distance, calories burned and heart rate when you’re walking, running or cycling. It can also now measure a couple of other metrics, including weigh-lifting reps, push-ups, sit-ups and squats.
Google Assistant without the phone
Speaking of AI, Google’s Assistant has also now been integrated into Android Wear 2.0. You can now enjoy the machine learning, virtual assistant without needing to whip out your phone every time you have to ask a question. Right now the Google Assistant is available only in English and German on Android Wear 2.0, with more languages coming in the future.
Meet the new members of Android Wear: LG’s Watch Style and LG Watch Sport
Along with Android Wear 2.0, Google has also announced the arrival of LG’s newest smartwatches: the Watch Style and Watch Sport. These new Android Wear devices were designed in collaboration with Google, and comes the Watch Style comes three classic designs and finishes: silver, rose gold and titanium, and comes with removable, snap-and-swap 18mm leather and silicone bands. The power button rotates which allows you to quickly scroll through your stream. It’s another why-didn’t-they-think-of-that feature that’s akin to the rotating bezel of Samsung’s Gear smartwatches.
The Watch Sport, meanwhile, is loaded with new features which include NFC for tap and go payments, GPS for tracking, excercise and navigation, heart rate sensor and cellular connectivity. It’ll come with a high-performance elastomer strap, and comes in titanium and dark blue.
Google said that they’ll be announcing the roll-out of the new update to other, older smartwatches in the coming weeks. Here’s the full list of smartwatches that will be updated to version 2.0:
- ASUS ZenWatch 2 & 3
- Casio Smart Outdoor Watch
- Casio PRO TREK Smart
- Fossil Q Founder
- Fossil Q Marshal
- Fossil Q Wander
- Huawei Watch
- LG Watch R
- LG Watch Urbane and 2nd Edition LTE
- Michael Kors Access Smartwatches
- Moto 360 2nd Gen
- Moto 360 for Women
- Moto 360 Sport
- New Balance RunIQ
- Nixon Mission
- Polar M600
- TAG Heuer Connected