In the battle for smartwatch supremacy Android Wear is certainly lagging behind. Apple led the way in 2016, taking over half of the market share over the whole year – leaving everyone else scrambling for second place!
Google are hoping to fight back in 2017 with a complete overhaul of its wearable operating system. Android Wear 2.0 has been long anticipated and there has been a lot of talk about two new devices carrying the new OS which Google have created in conjunction with LG.
There is no doubt that Google are banking on Android Wear 2.0 to change their fortunes in the ongoing smartwatch war. But today we will look at Android Wear 2.0 and see just how it is going to change smartwatches.
How is Android Wear 2.0 Better
Android Wear 2.0 really does work a lot better than previous iterations of the operating system. Two LG watches have been released to coincide with the launch of Android Wear 2.0 and they have clearly been designed to get the best out of the new OS. There’s no doubt that smartwatch manufacturers will be looking forward to incorporating these new features into their new devices.
One of the most welcome changes is that the new design is much simpler and easier to use than previous versions. You can swipe right or left to change your watch face; you swipe up from the bottom to see your notifications; you swipe down from the top to see your settings; you can access your list of apps by pressing the main button on the screen; finally, you can open up the Google Assistant exactly the same way that you do on your phone by saying “OK Google” or holding down the main button.
This new interface will be music to the ears of owners of previous Android Wear devices who will be glad to find it is much simpler!
The addition of LTE support to Android Wear 2.0 will be very exciting for people who want to use their watch as more than just a watch. You can take calls, send texts and use superfast internet on your smartwatch. If you really wanted to, you could give up your smartphone altogether and just use your smartwatch instead!
Apps on Android Wear 2.0
One of the biggest improvements on Android Wear 2.0 is the way that apps work on the device. You can now install apps directly onto the device itself without needing to use your android phone. This is a big improvement on previous devices as it gives you a lot more flexibility with the apps you use.
It is also much better for iPhone owners who have opted for an Android wearable over an Apple Watch. If you did this with an older Android Wear device you would have been disappointed to learn that there is no way to install apps on your smartwatch. This improvement lets you install apps directly from the watch or, if you find the small screen difficult, you can connect it to a computer and install apps that way.
A preinstalled feature that many people will be looking forward to using is Android Pay. You will need to have an NFC-enabled device to use this feature. At present, no Android Wear devices apart from the new LG Watch Sport incorporate this feature – but expect a lot of newer models to feature NFC for Android Pay. One of the only downsides to using Android Pay is the wait to load the app up before you can make a purchase. It can often take a bit longer than you would like, but it is a very useful feature and updates to the software may make it more user friendly.
Fitness Tracking on Android Wear 2.0
Google have picked up on the biggest demographic for smartwatches – fitness enthusiasts – and focused on improving the features are most interested in. Automatic workout detection is one of these new features and it is really exciting! Your smartwatch will automatically detect that you are working out and open up the fitness apps without you having to do a thing. This feature allows you to just focus on working out rather than setting up the app to track your work out. The Google Fit app will also be able to give you guidance on proper technique for a lot of different exercises.
It is also worthwhile picking up a device which comes with built-in GPS as this can save you needing to take your phone out for location tracking.
There’s a lot to get excited about with the new Android Wear 2.0 operating system and it is really going to change the smartwatch landscape. Initially smartwatches were intended to become fully featured computers which could fit on your wrist. Over the last few years it has become very clear that isn’t what people want from a smartwatch. Apple, and now Google, have finally accepted what people want from their smartwatches and they are moving towards delivering it.
Something which really puts Google ahead of Apple is the independence that Android Wear 2.0 gives you from your smartphone. You have the potential to use LTE data, make calls, send texts, track location and install apps without needing your smartphone present. Something that Apple and other smartwatch operating systems do not allow. This has the potential to allow users to no longer rely completely on their smartphone, just like people dreamed when smartphones first appeared!
So, while Google seem to be admitting defeat on the “mini-computer” that they hoped to deliver in the past. Android Wear 2.0 does see Google moving towards an independent wearable device which allows you to ditch your smartphone. That is something to get very excited about!