David Singleton, Engineering Director at Google’s Android Wear Division, posted a blog post today announcing a couple of planned updates to the Android Wear platform between now and the end of the year. This announcement is interesting both on account of the new features to Android Wear as much as confirmation that they’ll be made available to all devices regardless of manufacturer or location as they’ll be sent directly from Google. This should mean that buyers won’t be left waiting months for the new features to be released for their device, and this is a very good thing indeed.
Let me recap over Android Wear, which was announced at Google I/O 2014. Wear is a version of Google’s Android platform, specifically designed for smartwatches and other wearable pieces of technology. Android Wear is designed to be paired up to an Android smartphone running Android 4.3 or higher and this will enable Google Now, mobile notifications and the ability to download apps from the Google Play Store. The platform was launched with two devices, The LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, with other manufacturers quickly stepping in to sell their own products including Sony, Motorola and ASUS. Android Wear relies on Google Now for most of its intelligence; it doesn’t tell the time, instead it uses the time to formulate suggestions together with other context-sensitive factors. A smartwatch with built-in Google Now makes the service that much more immediate: you won’t have to check your smartphone to see that there’s a hold up on the commute home, your smartwatch will discreetly let you know.
The first update will add support for on-device GPS (to include distance and speed tracking), support for Bluetooth headphones and offline music playback. This means that you won’t need your smartphone with you if you go out for a run or bike ride. The second update will include proper support for downloadable watch faces, as currently customising your device is awkward. This will allow users to completely customise what information is showing on their watch face and developers will soon be making their own custom watch faces available on the Google Play Store. David also confirmed that Google are working with individual manufacturers to bring even more functionality, highlighting the Asus Zen Watch’s bio sensor and the LG G Watch R’s heart rate monitor.
It’s great to see Google address the early adopters of Android Wear and I’m encouraged that they’ll be supplying the updates direct to the end user. The two known updates will include some pretty useful upgrades: what are you most interested in on your Android Wear smartwatch? What can’t you wait for? Hit us up in the comments below or use your favourite social network site.