Ever since its entry in the connected smartwatch arena Google has not been able to provide a really meaningful update for its smartwatch OS until February 8, when all that changed with its official announcement of the Android Wear 2.0 update, its new features and capabilities, and a list of compatible wearable devices that qualified for the update – the earlier updates were not at the scale of the Android 2.0.
The first two wearables to hit the market soon factory-loaded with the Android Wear 2.0 are the recently unveiled LG Watch Sport priced at $349 and LG Watch Style @ $249 following which updates for other watches will be released. However, they will not remain the only watches factory-loaded with the update for too long as many others are scheduled to take the wearable market by storm this year.
Smartwatches have some basic usability features that make them popular to a reasonable extent – features such as fitness tracking, notification alerts, weather updates, calendar appointments and so forth. What the Wear 2.0 has done is improved on these basics to provide a much-enhanced user experience in addition to adding a host of other new features which one may or may not have the need for. However, most features can be customized according to user need, not dissimilar to Apple’s watchOS 3 and the general trend for wearable devices.
Here are some of the features to help you decide whether you need a smartwatch unless you already have one. If you do, you can refer to the list provided at the end to check if it is good to receive the Wear 2.0 update – worst case scenario if you really must have it; you will have to buy one that is updatable or one which is factory loaded with the 2.0 update.
Google Fit which was found somewhat wanting in the earlier version is finally fit itself in the Wear 2.0 to provide a great user experience. In addition to improvements in its existing fitness features Google Fit can detect when you are working out and will even do an activity count for you like the number of press-ups or push-ups. In fact, it has been programmed to even detect when you switch over from one workout to another.
In the Android Wear 2.0, Google has given the option of customizing more than one watch face for your smartwatch. For example, you can have a work watchface with your calendar and stuff, a home watchface with any picture you may fancy, music controls etc. and if you so desire you can customize a third and a fourth one.
Unlike the previous Android Wear where Google notification cards covered the entire watchface when they popped up in real time, the Wear 2.0 will display the notification cards, in real time as well, but as a small icon which you can tap to expand whenever you choose to and not have it forced down your throat as they keep coming in.
The innovation to this particular feature does not stop here. For more manageability, Google has provided a status bar at the bottom of the display area to show how many notification cards need your attention.
Google Assistant can be real handy on smartwatches considering they are too tiny for a comfortable manual input and more conducive to voice inputs. Users can perform a host of activities using voice commands such as set up calendar reminders, answer questions, respond to messages, make restaurant bookings, add items to shopping lists, use it as a remote control for smart devices, and even get navigation assistance. All one has to do is long-press the power button or simply say “OK Google” and the Assistant will be at your service.
Among some other useful and not so useful features, the ones discussed above demanded a mention for the thought process that has gone into them for an optimal user experience.
As promised, here’s the list of smartwatches that are due to receive the Android Wear 2.0 update:
~ ASUS ZenWatch 2
~ ASUS ZenWatch 3
~ Casio Smart Outdoor Watch
~ Casio PRO TREK Smart
~ Fossil Q Founder
~ Fossil Q Marshal
~ Fossil Q Wander
~ Huawei Watch
~ Huawei Watch Ladies
~ LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE
~ LG Watch Urbane
~ LG G Watch R
~ Michael Kors Access Bradshaw Smartwatch
~ Michael Kors Access Dylan Smartwatch
~ Moto 360 (2nd Gen.)
~ Moto 360 Sport
~ New Balance RunIQ
~ Nixon Mission
~ Polar M600
~ Tag Heuer Connected