Android Wear continues to improve as Google introduces new apps, new features and new watches in partnership with the manufacturers of each device, but the latest improvement comes by way of the Google Maps API as well as the release of Google Play Services 8.1. Earlier today Google announced the launch of Google Play Services 8.1 for developers, and along with the Google Maps API developers can now implement Always-On functionality to their maps now that the API supports it, to allow for a much lower power consumption during use when needed. Google calls this functionality Ambient Mode, and it should help immensely as battery life has been an issue for some with varying Android Wear devices.
Thanks to the new API implementations, when a user is out and about and opens up any apps which use Maps on the watch, the app can now determine whether it’s better off displaying things to the user in Interactive Mode, or Ambient Mode. Since Ambient Mode uses black and white colors for rendering the images, much less battery power is used thus extending the battery life for the watch of the user, and this is no small improvement to say the least. Of course, developers will have to implement Ambient Mode into their applications with Maps first before users begin to see these benefits.
Google gives developers a series of instructions on how they can get Ambient Mode added to their apps if they’re interested. For users, when they’re experiencing Ambient Mode, everything on the map will disappear except for the roads and names. Everything gets hidden from view and can’t be accessed including UI controls, as well as any markers and objects that would otherwise show up on screen. What users are left with is the black and white interface with complete simplicity that can be seen in the GIF image. Not only that, but users are also restricted from any user input and alerted to this fact by the map. Ambient Mode also keeps the correct view position in place prior to becoming enabled so users don’t lose their place on the map.