Android makes smartwatches even smarter
You can now reply to WhatsApp messages by talking into your wrist, with a new update to Google Android Wear smartwatches…
Smartwatches are designed to make life easier – sure, there are lots of really cool techy stuff too, but sometimes it’s the simplest features that are the best.
The way the watch connects wirelessly to your phone so you can get your messages without having to root through your bag for your handset, for example.
And it’s the simpler features that have been the focus of the update, Android Wear 2.0.
What is Android Wear?
Google’s operating system for smartwatches made by everyone from LG and Huawei to Motorola.
It’s designed to be paired with smartphones running Android, but it’s also compatible with some iPhones – check compatibility.
As well as receiving updates and messages from your phone, you get all kinds of useful info such as:
- avoid traffic delays on your way home
- never forget your anniversary with calendar reminders
- find your destination with ease using turn by turn directions
- know you can leave your brolly at home with the latest weather reports
- reply even faster to WhatsApp message using your voice
Android Wear watches are also highly customisable, with traditional round-faced watches alongside more techy looking devices.
Android Wear 2.0 – what’s new?
Google says its smartwatch OS gets its ‘most significant update since its launch’ with Android Wear 2.0 – so what’s new?
1. Less dependent on your phone
Smartwatches are reliant on your smartphone to connect to the internet - piggybacking off its Wi-Fi or 4G connection.
But watches running Android Wear 2.0 can connect to the internet all by themselves… so you get the same features whether your phone’s nearby or switched off.
You can also install apps without having to pair your watch to a smartphone. Expect to see more smartwatches with built-in Wi-Fi and 4G.
2. Easier to use (and prettier)
Whether opening a story, replying to a message or putting your watch in flight-mode – Android Wear 2.0 is simpler and easier to interact with.
Many Android Wear watches have traditional round faces, and Google’s design tweaks are ideal for round watches.
It’s also got a cooler, darker colour scheme.
3. It knows whether you’re running or walking
Smartwatches are perfect fitness-tracking gadgets – with built-in trackers to measure your activity and apps to help make sense of it.
Android Wear 2.0 watches recognise whether you’re walking, running or cycling and then automatically begin tracking your workout.
Google Fit, the built-in fitness app, will also access data from other apps on your watch – for instance a calorie-counting app.
4. Customise your watch-face with widgets
You can now tailor your watch-face to fit like a Savile Row suit.
Add widgets of your favourite apps to see things like calendar info or weather on your watch-face. If you want more info, just hit the widget to load the full app.
5. It has a really clever keyboard
You can already reply to messages on Android Wear watches using your voice – now you get a keyboard for swiping out text replies.
It’s not like a regular keyboard though. This one, using clever Google tech, recognises what’s been said and suggests short replies. You don’t have to type out each letter individually.
When can I get these new features?
Google says it’s rolling Android Wear 2.0 from autumn 2016