April 21, 2015 weblog
Google big Android Wear update adds functions, fun
Android Wear's Monday announcement of new features is drawing many compliments from those watching out for what's next in making a smartwatch purchase. The new attractions include the lightness of wearing a smart watch without having to pocket a smartphone; the fun of sending messages with custom emojis; and the ease that comes with using wrist gestures to see what you want to see.
"Android Wear: wear what you want, get what you need," was the Monday headline posted on Google's official blog by David Singleton, director of engineering, Android Wear.
Google will add these features to its Android Wear devices in the coming weeks. Expect WiFi support where your watch will be able to connect to your smartphone even if the phone is not on your person but rather on some table at home. As long as both are connected to the internet, you get notifications. Singleton wrote, "Now Android Wear supports watches with built-in Wi-Fi. As long as your watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network, and your phone has a data connection (wherever it is), you'll be able to get notifications, send messages, and use all your favorite apps. And if you really do forget your phone, you can always ask your watch where it is."
Also expect to have the ability to cycle through cards without getting fingerprint marks on the screen, said Engadget. Wrist gestures now do the job, where you scroll up a card by flicking your wrist away from you. Jeff Ward-Bailey in The Christian Science Monitor explained: "Android Wear is built around a series of cards: one might display an unread e-mail, another might show an incoming text message, and so on." According to the Google blog, you no longer need your hands to check your news and notifications.
Yet another step up: Google will let apps take advantage of the always-on display. David Singleton in the blog said, "most Android Wear watches include an always-on screen—no tapping, twisting or shaking required to see what time it is. Now we're expanding this option to apps, so they can stay visible as long as you need them, instead of disappearing when you drop your arm."
Ars Technica' s Ron Amadeo explained how Android Wear will work out the emoji feature. "In response to a message, instead of one of the canned responses or replying by voice, you can draw an emoji symbol and Android Wear will try to recognize your doodle and replace it with a stock emoji. It's sort of like handwriting recognition, but for emoji instead of letters." Josh Lowensohn in The Verge said the support for drawing emoji characters was "probably the most fun part of the update.".He said, "Instead of replying with a canned response or awkwardly speaking into your wrist, you can draw an emoji character and Android Wear will do its best to recognize it and convert it to an actual emoji. In practice, it ends up being entertaining, both when it gets it right, and when it fails horribly."
LG's Watch Urbane is where the rollout starts. Singleton said, "These updates are coming to all seven Android Wear watches over the next few weeks, starting with the new LG Watch Urbane."
User reactions showed substantial support as they considered the Android Wear update useful. Ars Technica made the observation that the Monday launch of Android Wear update "seems to close many of the functionality gaps between Wear and the Apple Watch."
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