Google has announced this week that they have added several new functions to the Android Wear operating system in an update that is now being rolled out. The latest update takes an eye towards delivering some improvements to hands-free input options - and a bit more smartphone functionality to the wrist as a result - as Google looks to cut down on the number of finger gestures required to use reminders, messages, and handle calls. The new features will work on existing and upcoming mobile devices running the OS and will be compatible with first-party and select third-party apps.

Starting things off is a set of new navigation options for wrist gestures. At present, Android Wear smartwatches can do simple navigation by flicking your wrist. With the new update, Google is adding the ability to expand a card, bring up apps, or return to watch face with a push, lift or shake of the wrist.

Also present in the latest update are improved voice control functions for third party apps. Smartwatches running Google Android Wear already support voice commands to control music playback, make notes/reminders, search the Internet, etc, while the latest update will all voice commands to send messages from applications like Google Hangouts, Nextplus, Telegram, Viber, WeChat, and WhatsApp.

Finally, all Android Wear watches can monitor incoming calls. However, there is a new breed of Android Wear-based watches (the Huawei Watch and the ASUS ZenWatch 2), which feature built-in speakers and with this update will be able to make calls outright in this fashion when paired with a smartphone.

The new Google Android Wear update does not seem to be too significant or game changing. However, it shows certain trends. Smartwatches are gaining functionality and bring some of smartphone capabilities to the wrist, which increases importance of such devices in general. Added convenience is what made mechanical wristwatches popular a century ago. Perhaps, improved feature-set of smartwatches will make them more widespread in the coming years.

The new update will be rolling out to all Android Wear watches over the next few weeks, but actual manufacturers will have to adopt them to their products and, perhaps, add their own features or even applications. Availability of the update depends on makers of actual devices.

Source: Google

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  • WinterCharm - Sunday, February 7, 2016 - link

    Or, you know, a 38mm apple watch. Because that *is* small enough. Reply
  • ddriver - Saturday, February 6, 2016 - link

    Oh wow, there is a girl attached to those teeth, I almost missed that. Thought it was a langolier. Reply
  • Murloc - Saturday, February 6, 2016 - link

    "built-in speakers and with this update will be able to make calls outright in this fashion when paired with a smartphone."
    can't wait to have a people talking to their wrist like secret agents.
    Reply
  • name99 - Saturday, February 6, 2016 - link

    You know people can already do this with Apple Watch? It is occasionally useful in situations when you don't want to take your phone out your pocket, but it's not something you'd want to do often because it forces you to hold your hand in a fairly uncomfortable fashion. At some point I expect the mic directionality will be good enough, and the speaker loud enough, that you'll be able to just speak into the air and have it all work, like talking into a good speakerphone today, but we are not there yet.

    One big current flaw in Apple's system is that once a call (telco or facetime) is in progress you can't transfer it from one device (watch, iPad, iMac, iPhone, etc) to another. I believe Google has partial support for this, but I'm not sure how total it is (and so, for example, whether it includes watch to/from anything else).
    Reply
  • WinterCharm - Sunday, February 7, 2016 - link

    > One big current flaw in Apple's system is that once a call (telco or facetime) is in progress you can't transfer it from one device

    Actually, you can. I transfer calls from my watch to my phone ALL the time.
    Reply
  • name99 - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    How do you do that? I mean, of course, once a call is in progress.
    Even more relevant to me, how do you transfer a call from an iMac to an iPhone or vice versa.
    Reply
  • name99 - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    Hot damn. Some investigating on the web showed how you can do it:
    http://www.iphonehacks.com/2015/06/how-to-transfer...

    The set of transfer directions doesn't seem complete. (I can't, eg, find a way to move from phone to iMac) but what is available certainly solves most of my needs. Well done, Apple!
    Reply
  • nfriedly - Sunday, February 7, 2016 - link

    Cool, this sounds like a good set of improvements. Hopefully they'll also fix the bug/misfeature where reminders always show up an hour early. Reply

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