After a year of negative news in the smartwatch industry, Google is finally trying to freshen things up for Android Wear.
Android Wear 2.0 is more of a refresh than a revolution. Besides receiving an entirely new UI, it improves fitness tracking, access to notifications, and adds additional “watch face complications.” It also signals a shift in Google’s wearable strategy towards more standalone watches with support for standalone apps.
New UI and the Google Assistant
The new UI incorporates more Material Design elements and a darker color scheme overall. Notifications are also now redesigned with much more spacing than previously.
Wear 2.0 also updates the existing Google Now to the Google Assistant. Long pressing on the side button will launch it and you can dictate your response from there.
Improved Fitness Features
In Wear 2.0, your smartwatch will be able to detect when you start an activity and what activity it is.
Apps will also be able to share data directly on the watch. For example, caloric intake and exercise trackers can now work together for a more accurate calculation.
Developers will now be able to access APIs for full network access, removing the necessity for a tethered connection.
Keyboard and Input
Handwriting, voice, and a mini keyboard make responding to messages on Wear a more intuitive experience than ever before. While you probably wouldn’t want to hold an entire conversation from your watch, it’s useful for firing off a single text message or a quick email.
Who gets it
Any of the devices listed below will be receiving the Android Wear 2.0 update over the “coming weeks.” Smartwatches released with Android Wear 2.0 are not included.
- ASUS ZenWatch 2
- ASUS ZenWatch 3
- Casio Smart Outdoor Watch
- Casio PRO TREK Smart
- Fossil Q Founder
- Fossil Q Marshal
- Fossil Q Wander
- Huawei Watch
- LG G Watch R
- LG Watch Urbane
- LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE
- Michael Kors Access Smartwatches (Dylan and Bradshaw)
- Moto 360 2nd Gen
- Moto 360 for Women
- Moto 360 Sport
- New Balance RunIQ
- Nixon Mission
- Polar M600
- Tag Heuer Connected
Android Wear 2.0 is a much welcome refresh to the Wear operating system, and it might even revitalize Android’s smartwatch industry.