Android Wear is about to get a lot of new features. Google announced today an update that should make Android watches a lot easier to use. While most Wear devices keep watchfaces on at all times with a power-saving Ambient Mode, sometimes the time isn’t the information you need from your smartwatch. Android Wear will now allow apps to create always-on modes to provide useful information without having to turn on the screen.
Google is also enabling Wi-Fi on its Wear watches, meaning you can still use them if you forget your phone as long as you’re watch and your phone are both connected to a Wi-Fi network. This means you can continue to use your watch, get notifications, and send messages even if your phone isn’t within Bluetooth range.
Android Wear’s launcher can be pretty inconvenient when it comes to launching apps, they buried the app controller away on their watches. It was never intended to be used for this purpose, but in light of the Apple watch I presume tapping once the screen allows you to access apps and contacts immediately.
Google is also adding some extra useability gestures. Now if your hands are full, you can scroll through lists with a flick of the wrist. Emoji are easier to access too; Google recently launched a handwriting input keyboard, you can draw and emoji on the screen and it will send it (Googles blog says that art degree not required).
Google says the updates are rolling out to all Android Wear watches over the next few weeks. The LG Watch Urbane will be first, with the others following soon thereafter.