What are the areas of focus for Google in Android Wear 2.0? Improving the usefulness of watch faces, adding higher health and fitness integration, accepting standalone apps, and simplifying communication.
Let’s go over what’s new.
Promo video for Android Wear 2.0
Watch faces are now built around you, and they aim to deliver information that’s actually valuable at a specific time. Things like reminders, upcoming appointments, step count, and more are available at a glance. Also, shortcuts to apps are available. Google says actions like launching a call or ordering an Uber can be done from your watch face. All you have to do is swipe and tap around to get different information.
Google Fit, though it’s been pre-installed on devices for a bit, is expanding to make your smartwatch a better activity tracker. Your smartwatch can monitor pace, distance, calories burned, heart rate (if a heart rate monitor is present), weight-lifting reps, push-ups, sit-ups, and squats. And, because Android Wear supports a cellular connection, you can work out without your phone nearby to take calls and interact with notifications.
Want to keep your phone and smartwatch separate? That’s a big desire Google responded to here. Apps don’t have to be on your phone to be on your smartwatch. You can keep individual apps on either device.
Most people will enjoy the new methods of communicating from their smartwatch. Messages can be expanded to reply using dictation, typing, handwriting, and emojis.
And, finally, Google Assistant is accessible on Android Wear 2.0-ready hardware. Just hold the power button or say “OK Google” to have your on-wrist virtual assistant listening to your next command.
The first two smartwatches to ship with Android Wear 2.0 are the Watch Sport and Watch Style from LG, but most existing devices are scheduled to get the software update as well. The only smartwatches not getting Android Wear 2.0 are the Moto 360 (2014), LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live, and ASUS ZenWatch because of hardware limitations. So you’ll either need one of the more recent smartwatches or a newbie from LG to enjoy everything Android Wear 2.0 has to offer.