Google rolled out its first version of the Android Wear OS in 2014. Back then, we lived in simpler times. The only competition the company had was Pebble, Samsung, Sony and a little firm called Fitbit. Like its Android OS, Google handed off the software to different hardware makers, who then in turn created different housings for the first Android Wear.
Fast-forward nearly three years and we’ve got the announcement of Android Wear 2.0 making us quiver in excitement at the new possibilities on offer. It’s been a tough journey, with the Apple Watch making waves and Fitbit becoming a wearable giant. But, it’s finally time. Android Wear 2.0 just launched on the LG Watch Style and Watch Sport and should be rolling out to other brands and compatible hardware in the following weeks.
We’re going to give you the lowdown on some of the main features to look forward to with Android Wear 2.0 and you decide whether it’s finally time to dress up your wrists with a new doodad.
As with its predecessor, Android Wear 2.0 allows users to swap in whatever face they like directly or via the companion app. One upside from the earlier version is the ability to mix and match your watch face to perfectly suit your needs. With new support for these “complications”, users will be able to see exactly what they want on any kind of face, be it digital or analogue in design.
One of the biggest changes in the new OS was the simplification of settings and overall navigation of wearable devices. Google wanted to reduce the number of taps or swipes to get to any particular feature and 2.0 has done that. Similar to your smartphone, you can now pull down a toggle drawer and switch modes and access settings more easily.
New notification settings
Android Wear 2.0 has changed the way we will receive and view notifications as well. Minimal and more subtle icons replace big and glaring white cards of its predecessor. They are also colour-coded to make sorting through them easier.
Another change is how we reply to these same notifications. One tap pulls up the reply menu and you can choose to either use emojis, your voice or a full touch keyboard as well. It may seem annoying, but it is supposed to be very easy to use. The other way is through Smart Reply, which employs Google’s massive machine learning algorithm. This just makes it easier for you to reply as the OS learns more and more about you. Not creepy at all.
In reference to the above mentioned machine learning, Google is dropping its assistant into Android Wear 2.0 wearables as well. To activate, all you have to do is say “OK, Google” or long-press the power button. It works the same way as in Pixel and Nexus devices, and you can ask your wearable all kinds of questions, such as how much time it take to get out of Dubai Mall and what the size of the Dubai Canal is.
Improved Google fitness
Google Fit has been revamped for the new OS too. The new version gives you live updates on calories, speed and distance as you work off those extra kilograms. You can also see your heart rate if your smartwatch has the necessary sensor. The app monitors your goals and lets you know when you’ve been falling behind or congratulates you when you succeed. It can also monitor your squats and press-ups with its new motion sensors and offer you different challenges based on what you want to do.
These are just a few of the cool changes and improvements that are coming to wearables this year. On the whole, Android Wear 2.0 is a much-needed and welcome improvement. It makes everything easier and faster to use, and comes with a really good-looking UI. Apple users will be able to use these as well now, albeit with limited functionalities. Google Assistant is going to make this version everything it was meant to be. Machine learning is the future and we’re excited that it’s in and on our wrists.