Google’s smartwatch platform Android Wear released its biggest software update Monday as part of a big move on top competitor Apple Watch.
With the Apple Watch shipping in just days, the timing amounts to strategic marketing. The niftiest new feature is undoubtedly the ability to move what’s on the screen with arm/wrist gestures. By flicking your wrist outward, the updated software will advance the cards (weather, calendar and so on) in the stream, while a flick inward reveals the previous cards.
Always-on Screen, Always-on Apps
“So most Android Wear watches include an always-on screen—no tapping, twisting or shaking required to see what time it is,” Googee says. “Now we’re expanding this option to apps, so they can stay visible as long as you need them, instead of disappearing when you drop your arm. In either case, the screen is only full color when you’re actively looking at it—so you get the info you need, and you save on battery life.”
The Android Wear update also enables users to just tap on the screen to start apps and send messages immediately. Now you can also draw hundreds of different emojis, directly on the watch screen. “We’ll recognize your work (no art degree required) and send it via message or text,” Google says in its blog post.
Android Wear now supports watches with built-in Wi-Fi. “As long as your watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network, and your phone has a data connection (wherever it is), you’ll be able to get notifications, send messages, and use all your favorite apps,” Google says.