Android Wear’s biggest update yet brings Wi-Fi, hand drawn emojis

Google has dropped an Android Wear software update as puts its best foot forward ahead of the Apple Watch release on Friday.

The largest ever update for the wearable OS brings the long-awaited Wi-Fi support for those with the tech built in to their wearable.

That means Android Wear watch owners will be able to untether from their phones in order to send and receive messages, get notifications and make use of connected apps.

Elsewhere, Google has also expanded the ‘Always-on’ screen mode to include apps, as well as the watch face itself. However, to conserve battery life, the display will revert to a black and white mode when users direct their attention elsewhere.

The company says: “[Apps] they can stay visible as long as you need them, instead of disappearing when you drop your arm. In either case the screen is only full color when you’re actively looking at it—so you get the info you need, and you save on battery life.”

Another neat change is the ability to draw emojis directly on to the display, if you don’t have time to talk or type a response. Google says it can recognise hundreds of different emojis, which can then be converted and sent as a text or IM.

Read more: Apple Watch vs Android Wear

There are also a couple of neat UI changes. Users can now flick their wrists in order to see news and notifications, while apps and contacts are now just one tap away from the watch face.

The over-the-air update is heading out to all seven Android Wear watches over the next few weeks, starting with the LG Watch Urbane.

Will the combination of Wi-Fi and GPS support – something the Apple Watch can’t offer – be enough to lure you towards an Android Wear smartwatch?

Let us know your thoughts below.