Google’s smartwatch OS gets its first major update
Google has launched the first major update for its Android Wear smartwatch OS, and it brings a couple of interesting new features for those with the hardware to exploit them.
It hasn’t been plain sailing for Android Wear since its launch in March of this year. None of the hardware that runs Google’s bold smartwatch OS has been received terribly well – even the platform’s biggest hope, the Motorola Moto 360, is a little disappointing – and the software itself seems to be a work in progress.
Google will hope that its new Android Wear update will be able to do something about the latter issue, at least. Here’s what you can expect from the new version of Android Wear.
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Go for a jog without your phone
Up to now, if you wanted to go for run using your Android Wear smartwatch to track your performance, you had to take your phone along for the ride. When most modern Android phones are… how can we put this delicately… rather on the large side, this situation was far from ideal.
Thank goodness, then, for the new Android Wear update. It allows your smartwatch to track your route, distance, and speed – provided it’s equipped with a GPS sensor, of course. Which, um, only the new Sony SmartWatch 3 seems to have.
Still, we assume (and hope) that all second-wave Android Wear devices will have such a feature on board.
Locally stored music
Elsewhere, Google is also allowing you to store music on your Android Wear watch rather than requiring you to stream it from your phone.
Naturally, internal storage is rather limited on any Android Wear watch, but for loading up a couple of albums for your next run it should be a more than welcome option.
And yes, this also means that the update allows you to hook up your Bluetooth headphones to your watch.
Which devices will receive it, and when?
The new Android Wear update has been announced alongside intitial pre-order details for the new Sony SmartWatch 3, and thanks to that device’s GPS sensor, it’s the only device that can make the most out of each one of Android Wear’s new features.
Still, the rest of the range will also be getting the update, which should see them benefit from the inevitable performance enhancements and that offline music feature. Google has confirmed that the LG G Watch, the Samsung Gear Live, and the Moto 360 will all be getting the new version of Android Wear over the next few days.
New app categories
Google’s new Android Wear update has been accompanied by some new additions to the Google Play Store, which should make it more useful for smartwatch owners.
Google has added eight new Android Wear-specific app collections to its app store. These are: Featured, Health & Fitness, Travel & Local, Social, Tools, Communication, Productivity, and More Apps.
With a reported tens of thousands of Android apps now enhanced for Android Wear usage, such a curation effort is most welcome.
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