It’s finally out. Android Wear 2.0 is now available to the masses, with LG’s Watch Style and Watch Sport being the first to showcase the prowess of the new OS. There will now be much more coming soon, as well as number of existing smartwatches which could get the update as well. But what is the reason behind all the hype surrounding the wearable OS? Well, let’s list out six of them.
The addition of the Play Store on Android Wear now gives user better access to tailor-made apps that will work natively for any smartwatch out there. Users will get to download apps directly to their smartwatches that are independent of the apps on their phone, and letting them use these apps directly on the watch without needing it to be paired with the smartphone.
This also means that standalone apps will finally be a thing on the OS, making it possible for developers to create apps based entirely for the platform. The number of opportunities here are endless. Since smartwatches come with Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity nowadays, users can brave the world even without a smartphone in the pocket.
Let’s face it. On a screen that’s so small, it’s difficult to make sense of what’s going on and where to go. Too many options, so little screen real estate. Android Wear 1.0 did not help at all, since different swipes meant different functions and it was very easy to forget. This time around, it’s made simple – swiping up brings up the notifications, swiping left or right switches the watch faces, swiping down gets the settings shade. The physical button will allow for opening the apps list, while long-pressing brings out the Google Assistant.
Another neat trick that Android Wear 2.0 has built-in to its interface is that if the watch face has a crown for spinning, it can adapt to that input and rotate screens. Overall, a pretty neat and clean UI
99 times out of 100, people buy a new wearable to stay fit. And Google has been made aware through feedback and testing as to what users want in their smartwatch to keep them fit – a more robust and straight-forward exercising companion. Google Fit on Wear 2.0 now comes with additional training options and also features “Challenges” like the “Push-up challenge” or the “Squat challenge.” A little demonstration in the form of an animation is used, to guide the user on the correct form while the motion sensors on the wearable will check to see if it’s the right way or not. Doesn’t get any simple than that.
Input has been given a lot of importance in Android Wear 2.0. There are now three ways that users can interact with apps and messages. For messages, users can use the quick reply option to send fast ready-made replies to messages like Gmail – this feature is called ‘Smart Reply’. The second method of input is through the handwriting recognition capabilities of the smartwatch, so people can just directly write what they want. The third method is through a full-fledged keyboard that is also swipe enabled. With so many ways of interaction, users won’t even miss their smartphones anymore.
Notifications on Android Wear 2.0 are a lot less intrusive now, since the last iteration of the OS made those notification cards come in the way of working. This time, the notifications will just appear as small icon. Should the user ignore it, it will turn into part of a progress bar at the bottom of the screen so users know whether they have read their notifications. No more clutter with notifications now on Wear 2.0. And since Google knows that most smartwatch displays will be AMOLED, they have made the design of the notifications a black background with light text in order to save battery life and also to avoid blindingly bright notifications to alert the user. Very smart.
Complications are like tiny widgets on the watch-face to provide information to the user at a glance. Before, customizing the watch faces with third party applications to add more information seemed like a distant dream, but now it’s become second nature to the OS. Information like steps taken, weather, date and other details can be accessed easily. It also works in the ambient mode of the screen so that it’s always accessible. Further down the line in the future, there will be more functions and complications added to the list.
Apart from these above-mentioned features, other inclusions like complete connectivity solutions, thanks to LTE and other sensors that Android Wear 2.0 will support and all newer wearables will be equipped with, the need of a smartphone will be greatly diminished. Everything about Wear 2.0 is fast. From transitions, to loading times, everything has been optimized to deliver the best experience to the user.
Google also knows that everyone’s watch face will depend on their mood, so they have made it a lot easier to access their vast library of watch faces and have made them customizable too, so users can add their own personal photos and look to their watch faces. The icing on the cake is Google Assistant. And we all know how much of an important feature it is to have on any device, let alone a smartwatch. We can probably see a future where Google Assistant will be interactive with the smart devices we interact with at home as well. The possibilities are actually endless with Wear 2.0.
For the non-believers in smartwatches, now is probably good enough reason to convert.