Android Wear update adds wrist gestures and always-on apps

Google has detailed an upcoming Android Wear update, with the software patch adding a number of innovative new features.

From wrist gestures and always-on apps to a new launcher and an emoji recogniser, the upcoming update will help bring the platform’s series of supported devices closer to the market-leading Apple Watch.

“In the last 12 months we’ve launched four major software updates,” David Singleton, Google’s Director of Android Wear, said speaking during the Google I/O keynote.

“With things like GPS, offline music and Wi-Fi, we’re making your watches even more useful for you, even when you don’t have your phone.

Looking to what’s next, he added: “Today we are evolving Android Wear even further and we are taking the inspiration from something we already do on our watches, tell the time.

“Checking the time is glanceable, actionable, and effortless. The latest update to Android Wear, which is rolling out in the coming weeks, takes this approach to all areas of your watch.”

The upcoming update will see owners of devices such as the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R able to scroll through app screen and menus, simply be twisting their gadget adorned wrists up and down.

The finger-free navigation method should prove handy when struggling with baggage or when sporting grubby digits.

Another benefit of the upcoming Android Wear update will see always-on apps introduced. Utilising a low-power mode, features such as navigation directions or shopping lists can be retained on screen for long periods without hammering the wearable’s minimalist battery life.

Echoing Apple’s wearable platform, the next Android Wear patch will feature new emoji drawing features. Unlike the Cupertino-based company, however, Google will transform your watch-based drawings into actual emojis, cutting down on the time spent scrolling through endless option lists.

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Landing next month, the Android Wear update will be available for many existing devices, a claim Google has been keen to brag about.

“Every time we make these improvements, we’re able to push them to existing watches,” Singleton said.

“When you buy and Android Wear watch, you know it’s going to keep getting better over time.”

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