After multiple developer previews and many hushed whispers, Google has finally taken the wraps off Android Wear 2.0. Launched alongside the much anticipated and even more leaked LG Watch Style and Watch Sport, the next generation of Google’s Wear platform is here.
Let’s take a look at what’s new:
Wear 2.0 features
First and foremost, Wear 2.0 is bringing a new UI and navigation style to the platform. Google says it’s redesigned from the ground up the new UI should make it easier to do the things you need to — with more “Android like” UI features like a settings shade, quick buttons, rotational control and app shortcuts, getting around wear should be easier than ever.
While Android Wear has always given users a huge range of customisation options, with Wear 2.0 Google has taken this to the next level and wisely chosen to launch with watch face customisation.
The new system for “complications” allows users to truly customise their watch face with a range of app shortcuts and information widgets apps from installed apps like Google Fit. You can even add one touch calling or messaging to a favourite contact or two.
It’s not clear yet how many apps support the new system, but I bet we all have a list of apps we want to see on a watch face – I for one NEED a Pocket Casts watch face, or at least a few widgets for always-available playback control!
There’s little surprise here. We knew that Google was introducing standalone apps on Wear 2.0. With the new system, you can install Wear 2.0 apps directly onto the watch without the need to have the companion app installed on your paired device. Additionally, the app can work completely independently of your paired device so your apps will work wherever you are. With an LTE watch, you can be truly independent.
Standalone apps available today include: Android Pay*, Foursquare, Glide, Google Fit, Google Play Music, Lifesum, Messenger, Robin Hood, Runkeeper, Runtastic, Strava, Telegram, Todoist, Uber, and more.
Google has improved the Google Fit app for Android Wear which now includes tracking for pace, distance, calories burned and heart rate as you’re walking, running or cycling. For more indoors activity you can now measure weight lifting reps in addition to your push-ups, sit-ups, and squats. With fitness tracking being a big part of the wearable market. With fitness tracking being a big part of the wearable market, it’s essential that Google gets this experience right.
Google has brought some of their smart reply features, ala Inbox, to Android Wear. When you receive a message, you can expand the notification and tap to respond by dictating, typing or handwriting your answer, drawing an emoji or using a smart reply based on the message received. Smart reply isn’t just limited to Google apps though, and should work on apps like Facebook Messenger, Glide, Google Messenger, Hangouts, Telegram or WhatsApp.
Android Wear 2.0 is officially the 4th home for the Google Assistant. Available in English and German at launch, more languages will roll-out in the coming months. It’s unclear if your device has a speaker, like the new LG Watch Sport, whether you will get audio responses.
Assistant functionality will include navigation, reminders, audio controls and even home automation if you’ve got the connections to assistant.
Check out the launch video below.
That’s a comprehensive list of new features and changes, so we’re hopeful the second generation of Android Wear is going to be awesome.
Here’s the current list of Android Wear devices that will be getting the update to Wear 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 & 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 and TAG Heuer Connected