Android Wear's Biggest Update Ever Brings Wifi and Emoji Support

Apple Watch is finally entering the smartwatch wild this Friday, but Google is updating Android Wear to be an even more compelling competitor with wifi, new hand gestures, always-on apps and yes, even emoji support.

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Arguably, the Apple Watch’s biggest +1 over Android Wear is its wifi capabilities (since it certainly isn’t battery life.) Now, Android Wear is no different with Google stating in a blog post that Android Wear now supports all watches with wifi. This means you’re no longer on a 50-foot (or so) Bluetooth leash when you’re just hanging out at home. You can leave your phone on the charger and still get all your notifications right on your wrist.

Google’s also made navigating and using certain apps waaaaay less annoying. For one, certain apps like Google Maps now support a low-power, always-on mode, so when you need walking directions right on your wrist, you don’t have to wake up your smartwatch every time to see where you’re going.

Google’s also experimenting with touchless controlling, meaning this update will let users navigate through Android Wear wars by just flicking your wrist over and over.

If you think you’re going to get jealous of your Apple Watch amigos sending cutesy little drawings to one another, Android Wear also brings on-screen drawing support that turns your (probably shitty-looking) drawings into emoji text responses. I mean, you still can’t send your heartbeat to your girlfriend or husband or BFF or whoever, but like WTF who cares.

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In typical Google fashion, rollout for this update is going to be pretty up in the air. The update will come to all current Wear watches with LG’s Watch Urbane (obviously not the WebOS LTE version) shipping out-of-the-box with the update already installed. Your current wrist wearable will most likely be blessed with this new update in a couple weeks. [Google]

DISCUSSION

theodorebear
Theodore Bear

I think the biggest growth point for Android Wear is increasing the things that you can do in each app. Although Google initially seemed to be taking the “Pebble” approach of a very simply interface as a companion device rather than trying to replicate phone functions. I think the Apple Watch shows that there are some good use cases for more capable watch apps. Android Wear should also incorporate an app drawer ala Wear Mini Launcher. A big advantage to Android Wear right now is that the cards system makes more intuitive sense in terms of the layout of the interface. The Apple Watch combining scrolling up and down and zooming in and out of apps makes navigation inconsistent.