Google I/O 2014 was the year that we got to see just what Google had in store for Android Wear smartwatches, and now, during Google I/O 2016, we're getting familiar with Android Wear 2.0. Much like Android N, the new version of Android Wear is in a Developer Preview, which launched for select watches during I/O this week. That means that the final version and all the new features that were announced during the show won't be available until later this Fall. However, Google has been letting developers and I/O attendees in on some secrets about what's coming in Android Wear 2.0, including many more standalone features.
These include the ability to download Android Wear apps directly from the Play Store. This should bring about a change in how quickly apps appear on your wrist, which right now doesn't happen all that quickly, which is because the Android Wear part of an app has to be downloaded to the phone at the same time as the phone app. This means that the Android Wear APK needs to be migrated over to your watch via Bluetooth, which is why things take so long. In Android Wear 2.0 however, smartwatches will be able to use their WiFi (or LTE) connection to download the part of the app they need directly from the Play Store. While users still need to initiate the download from their phone, this means that the app should appear quicker on to the watch, and should in turn help make updating said apps a lot quicker.
This is just one of the many ways that Android Wear watches are becoming more independent, or as Google calls it, standalone in nature. With Android Wear 2.0, Google is looking to leverage more of the Android code that's present at the core of Android Wear, and move away from a more tethered platform. This should make Android Wear watches a whole lot more useful when not connected to the user's phone and especially in terms of fitness. Android Wear 2.0 isn't set to launch until the Fall, but we'll have more info on it as we get it. Those looking for more on Android Wear 2.0 can read all about it.