After a long delay and wait, Google has finally made Android Wear 2.0 official for all eligible older and upcoming new smartwatches. It is a major upgrade for Android Wear, the smartwatch operating system based on Android and is loaded with a lot of new features and changes along with performance improvements.
One of the most interesting additions to Android Wear 2.0 is the support for standalone apps. It means now users will not have to rely on their smartphones for using apps on their smartwatches. As for apps requiring an active internet connection, users will be able to connect either via WiFi or LTE (if the watch supports the connectivity). There is even an on-watch Google Play Store now which will allow you to install Android Wear apps directly from the watch itself.
Google has improved UI aspect of Android Wear as well and it now features always-on watch faces which can be personalized easily. This change is aimed at allowing users to stay updated by simply lifting their arm and taking a glance at the watch. Even switching between watch faces has been made as simple as swiping left/right.
Google has made it easier to send replies to texts and messages from different instant messengers. You can send a reply by dictating, typing, handwriting input, and even by drawing an emoji. There is also a Quick Reply option which will smartly suggest you preset replies to send based on the type of message received. Some of the supported messaging apps include WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, Telegram, Google Messenger, and Glide.
Another interesting addition to Android Wear 2.0 is Google Assistant, the smart virtual assistant which used to be available only on Pixel smartphones and Android TVs. You can use the Assistant for asking all sorts of questions like weather, checking your calendar events, shopping list, searching the internet, latest sports info, breaking news, and more. It is currently available only in English and German but will be expanded to other languages in “coming months.” As for triggering it, all you need to say is “Ok Google” or hold the power button.
For fitness freaks out there, Google Fit app for Android Wear has now been updated with the ability to track distance covered, calories burned, pace, and heart rate.
Android Wear 2.0 will start rolling out from February 10 but actual availability will vary from OEM to OEM and smartwatch to smartwatch. LG’s new smartwatches LG Watch Style and Sport are the first ones to run Android Wear 2.0 out of the box.
As for older smartwatches, Android Wear 2.0 will be coming to ASUS ZenWatch 2 & 3, Casio Smart Outdoor Watch, Casio PRO TREK Smart, Fossil Q Founder, Fossil Q Marshal, Fossil Q Wander, Huawei Watch, LG Watch R, LG Watch Urbane & 2nd Edition LTE, Michael Kors Access Smartwatches, Moto 360 2nd Gen, Moto 360 for Women, Moto 360 Sport, New Balance RunIQ, Nixon Mission, Polar M600 and TAG Heuer Connected.