Android Wear 2.0: 20 minutes with Google's upcoming smartwatch features

Jeff Chang, Android Wear’s product manager, gave us a sneak peak at what’s coming in the next version of Android Wear.

Adam Patrick Murray

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Admit it: It’s annoying carrying your smartphone around with you even when you’re just going out for a run, and that’s why Google’s putting standalone application support into next version of Android Wear. We got a sneak peak at it from Android Wear’s product manager, Jeff Chang, along with a look at a few other new features coming this fall to Android Wear 2.0.

Android Wear apps—on their own!

Android Wear 2.0 will finally offer support for standalone applications. In our demonstration, Chang loaded a song off of a Spotify playlist using the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition, which has standalone 3G functionality. The app immediately loaded the song from the cloud and started playing it, though we couldn’t hear it because we didn’t have a Bluetooth headset paired up.

Developers who utilize the API can give apps access to the cloud via a Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular connection, and there are other uses for it besides streaming music. For instance, if you’re a runner, apps like Strava will log jogging and cycling activity without you having the bring the phone along, and then sync up the information when you’re back with your phone—or send it up to the cloud if you’ve got a 3G connection.

Easier correspondence on your wrist

One of the pain points of Android Wear for me personally is the fact that I can’t easily reply to an SMS or Facebook message from just the watch alone. However, Android Wear 2.0 lets you type out your message with a swipe-enabled keyboard. The keyboard is tiny compared to what you’d use on a phone, and may be difficult to use on smaller watch screens, but on the 1.38-inch G Watch Urbane 2nd Edition it seemed to work fine.

You’re not limited to the keyboard, either. If you like, you can draw out your letters to write a word and have Android Wear transform it into text. It’s reminiscent of writing on the Palm Pilot back in the day, and it’ll make sending a simple message like “Okay” easier to pen.

Information as you immediately need it

With the next version of Android wear, developers will be able to implement an API that displays information from their apps directly on the watch face. For it to work, the watch face developer has to make space for the feature on the watch face itself, and the app developers have to allow information to be displayed on the watch face. But if that’s all implemented, you’ll be able to pick and choose the apps that notify you as you please.

Coming soon to a wrist near you

In addition to the features mentioned above, Android Wear 2.0 will come with a few new interface tweaks and a refined version of Google Fit that will automatically recognize your activities, so it will know when you begin walking or running without you having to manually start an exercise. Android Wear 2.0 will be out later this year when Android N officially debuts on the smartphone. You can read more about the features here.

This story, "Android Wear 2.0: 20 minutes with Google's upcoming smartwatch features" was originally published by Greenbot.

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