Wear Weekly: 2016 The Year of the Dick Tracy Watch?

February 5, 2016 - Written By Tom Dawson

For roughly two years now, Android Wear watches have been on shelves and available to purchase online, while the platform is still struggling to achieve mainstream appeal, Google made an important announcement this week. Phone calls are finally coming to Android Wear. Took long enough, didn’t it? Devices that already have a speaker will be getting updates to Android Wear to wake them up and enable them to take calls from their wrists. Right now, that includes just the larger version of the ASUS ZenWatch 2 and the Huawei Watch, which we knew had a speaker a long, long time ago. So, that begs the question of whether or not 2016 is going to be the year of the Dick Tracy watch?

Famous for calling base from his wrist, Dick Tracy has become known as the benchmark for “cool” smartwatches and there are many of them that already meet this benchmark. They’re not running Android though, and in fact are from Samsung. The Gear line of wearables launched way back in 2013 with the original Galaxy Gear, and it featured the ability to take and make calls directly on the watch itself. Admittedly, these calls weren’t always clear when outdoors and the speaker was pretty quiet itself, but it was a nice feature to have and one that Samsung’s wearables have become known for. Their latest, the Gear S2, even works with AT&T’s customers already-existing number without being tethered to the phone. Now, Android Wear is finally joining the party, and that means that the majority of users will become aware that smartwatches will finally be able to offer that little bit more than they do now.

Google have essentially opened the flood-gates for a whole raft of new Android Wear models with their announcement. Will LG, Motorola and co. be happy to let ASUS and Huawei have all the fun with their wrist-mounted phone calls? It’s unlikely, and while yearly-releases seem to have become a “thing” where smartwatches are concerned anyway, it looks like 2016’s watches will be a little more exciting than the releases of 2015. It’s not just the whole taking call things either, Google’s announcement opens the door for more features to head to our wrists as well, and as recent surveys and analyst reports have shown, people expect more from their smartwatches.

A Marshmallow update is just around the corner for Android Wear, and there are more gestures coming along with it. This year is going to be the year that we see not just Samsung smartwatches with speakers, but pretty much everyone else, too. LG’s Watch Urbane is due for an upgrade (if we’re going by that yearly release schedule) so too is the Moto 360 and Sony’s SmartWatch 3 is older than most others out there. Whether or not the choice to embrace a speaker was one that Google fought off for a long time is unclear, but it’s good to see Android Wear is set to become more useful this year, and we hope there are more features besides taking calls coming to Android Wear this year.