Android Wear adds speaker support, new gestures, message dictation

Google has announced a new update for the Android Wear operating system, introducing the ability to make better use of the built-in speaker on newer smartwatches.

The boost means owners of devices like the Huawei Watch or ASUS ZenWatch 2 will be able to make and take calls from the watch, bypassing the Bluetooth connected phone completely.

On the Android blog, the firm wrote: “Screening calls from your wrist is a nice convenience that comes with Android Wear. Thanks to speaker support, you can now make and take calls over Bluetooth.”

This update, which appears to be part of an Android 6.0 Marshmallow roll out (via Android Police), unlocks much of the functionality many folks envisioned when smartwatches began to arrive on the scene. Indeed, on-watch phone calls and speaker support was first rumoured in May 2015.

Related: Android Wear vs Apple watchOS

But there’s more. The update allows offers new gestures beyond the flick-to-scroll feature introduced last April. From today, owners of Android Wear smartwatches can expand cards, bring up apps, or return to the watch face with a push, lift or shake.

Finally, Android Wear now enables users to send voice messages from a variety of the leading apps. Google Hangouts, Netxtplus, Telegram, Viber, WeChat and WhatsApp are all compatible with the voice messaging functionality.

Given users have been able to ask questions and receive answers via voice searches all along, it’s surprising Google has taken this long to introduce dictation for messages.

The update is coming to all Android Wear watches in the next couple of weeks, while new devices like the intriguing Casio Smart Outdoor Watch will also receive it. 

Will today’s improvements bring you any closer to adding an Android Wear smartwatch to your gadget roster? Or are their more pressing concerns before you dive into the emerging sector?

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