Everything you need to know about Android Wear 2.0: Android Wear 2.0 watches, apps, features, how to download Android Wear 2.0, and much more now that is has been launched.
As expected, Google unveiled Android Wear 2.0 a little ahead of schedule, unveiling the second instalment of its wearable OS on February 8, 2017.
Read on to find out some of the new features coming to the operating system, new LG smartwatches as well as when you can expect to download the Android Wear 2.0 update for older devices.
The new wearable OS introduces plenty of cool new features, including Google Assistant on your wrist, standalone apps, support for third-party complications, and many welcome design tweaks.
Read on for all the latest Android Wear news, or scroll down for a closer look at Google's new software.
Related: MWC 2017
Android Wear 2.0 news – what's the latest?
Sadly, the latest Android Wear 2.0 news to hit the headlines isn't particularly jolly, at least if you're the owner of a Sony Smartwatch 3.
In the fine print of Sony's Smartwatch 3 product page, the Japanese company notes that the "SmartWatch 3 SWR50 supports up to Android Wear 1.5. Android Wear 2.0 and onwards are not supported."
That's not really a huge surprise, given the device is now more than two years old. We're sure Sony doesn't want to be left behind, however, so it seems likely that a new Sony Smartwatch will debut in the not-too-distant future.
In other news, the first batch of apps to be updated for Android Wear 2.0 are entering the wild, with Runkeeper and Strava now joined by popular cab-hailer Uber.
Related: Best smartwatches
Android Wear 2.0 features – What’s new?
There are loads of new features coming in Android Wear 2.0, so here are some of the most important changes.
Google Assistant: First seen in Google's Pixel smartphones, Google Assistant is coming to Android Wear 2.0. This means the intelligent helper is now on your wrist and ready to respond to an 'Ok Google' command or a hold of the power button. Assistant will be available in English and German at launch, and other languages in coming months.
Assistant can make reservations for you, or give you a weather report. Assistant will also work with certain smart home devices, so you can tell it to turn the lights on in your home – complete hands-free.
Complications: One of the biggest arrivals in Android Wear 2.0 is the addition of complications, a feature already available on the Apple Watch 2. These are coming to the always-on display, too, meaning permanent at-a-glance updates from your favourite apps.
Related: Android Wear review
In traditional watch-making circles, a complication is any feature on a watch face that provides information beyond hours and minutes. The term is used in exactly the same way on smartwatches, which is why it’s exciting that Android Wear adds support for third-party complications.
Once Android Wear 2.0 lands, developers will be able to start peddling watch faces that feed off data from companies like Fitbit or Spotify, allowing fitness or music data to be integrated directly into your watch face.
Google gives the example of knowing your next appointment, progress towards your fitness goals or stock price updates. Different watch faces can have different complications, too, so you can swipe between one for home, your commute and the office.
Notifications: Google is also overhauling the way notifications work. Currently, they occupy the whole screen, which can be a little overwhelming. But with Android Wear 2.0, you’ll now receive small icons that can be tapped to open an expanded notification.
Related: Best Android Wear watch faces
Material Design: Another welcome change is the evolution of Material Design for Android Wear 2.0. This includes the addition of two interactive drawers.
The first is the Navigation Drawer, which lets users switch between views of their apps, like on an Android phone. The second is the Action Drawer, which provides easy access to common actions within an app. It peeks out when you reach the top or bottom of scrolling content, and should make it easier to get things done.
Standalone apps: At long last, Google is making it so that Android Wear apps can work independently of phone apps. That means an app will still be able to function fully even if your phone is nowhere near you.
A big advantage of this is that file sizes on your phone may decrease, as currently Android Wear apps are having to be embedded in their corresponding phone apps. This also means you’ll be getting a standalone Android Wear Play Store.
Input: There are three big changes to input. The first is that you’ll be getting a small keyboard that works with swiping, just like on Android proper. You’ll be able to utilise smart replies, too, an existing Android feature that suggests three possible responses to a message. Finally, Google will allow developers to create their own third-party keyboards for you to use.
Google Fit: Google is introducing automatic activity recognition, which is already a feature on devices like the Withings Activité. This means that if you start walking, running, or cycling, Android Wear will launch a relevant tracker app to make sure you activity doesn’t get missed.
Google has also added rep counting to measure weight training. So the watch will keep tally of how many push-ups, sit-ups or squats you do.
Related: Best Android Wear apps
Android Wear 2.0 release date – When can you get it?
Android Wear 2.0 launched with LG's brand new smartwatches, the LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style on February 10th in the US, and "in the coming weeks" in the UK.
The former is the more expensive of the two, packing in extras like GPS and a heart rate sensor to bolster its credentials. It also supports NFC and Android Pay for contactless payments.
As for when you can download Android Wear 2.0 to existing smartwatches, Google merely says this will also be "in the coming weeks."
We can only assume this will mean a staged release that will be dependent on manufacturers as well.
Related: LG Watch Sport vs LG Watch Style
Android Wear 2.0 Watches – What devices can you get it on?
The bad news is that not all smartwatches will be eligible for the upgrade. For instance, the now aged LG G Watch (the original version), Motorola’s first-gen Moto 360, and the Sony Smartwatch 3 won’t be getting the new software version.
That’s not particularly different from Android proper (or iOS, for that matter), whereby older smartphones miss out on newer OS upgrades.
It’s also not clear whether some watches will be upgraded; for instance, Samsung has stayed quite about whether or not the Samsung Gear Live is destined for Android Wear 2.0.
Here’s a round-up of smartwatches confirmed to be getting the upgrade, ordered alphabetically by brand:
- Asus: Asus ZenWatch 2, Asus ZenWatch 3
- Casio: Casio WSD F10
- Fossil: Fossil Q Founder, Fossil Q Wander, Fossil Q Marshal
- Huawei: Huawei Watch, Huawei Watch Ladies
- LG: LG G Watch R, LG G Watch Urbane (1st gen), LG G Watch Urbane (2nd gen)
- Michael Kors: Access Bradshaw Smartwatch
- Motorola: Moto 360 2, Moto 360 Sport
- New Balance: RunIQ
- Nixon: Nixon Mission
- Polar: Polar M600
- TAG Heuer: Connected
Of course, more smartwatches will be added to this list over time, so check back here for the latest details. And of course, the new LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style ship with Android Wear 2.0 straight out of the box.
Related: Nokia 3310 release date
Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview – How to download it
If you’re desperate to get your hands on the Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview before the software’s general release, here’s Google's handy guide on how to do it:
However, don’t forget that the Developer Preview is currently only available on two different devices, the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition and the Huawei Watch. Plus, as it's pre-release software, you can expect a fair few bugs and glitches.
Related: Best fitness trackers 2017
Watch: Wearables buying guide
What would you like to change about Android Wear? Let us know in the comments.