Google has officially launched Android Wear 2.0, the biggest update to the company’s wearable operating system since its launch. Wear 2.0 has a simplified design, new features and more ways it can work independently of your phone. It’ll even let you do nearly as much with an iPhone as you can when the watch is paired to an Android device. Here are the major updates you get with the latest Android Wear 2.0.
Speaking of machine learning, Android Wear 2.0 also finally brings Google’s Assistant to the watch. Say “OK Google” or long-press the power button and you can ask all sorts of queries. It can also be easily integrated with third-party connected devices like the Nest thermostat and Philips Hue lights or services like Uber.
Android Wear 2.0 has Google’s preinstalled Fit app just as before, but the experience is much improved. You can see your calories, pace and distance as you sweat it out, and if your watch has a heart rate sensor, you’ll see your beats per minute too. It also keeps track of how much you’ve been walking and cycling throughout the week and offers gentle reminders to get going toward your goal if you haven’t met your mark.
Android Wear 2.0’s support for LTE also builds upon those existing functions. Most often, if you are wearing the watch and don’t have your phone with you, it’s because you’re out for a run and carrying around your smartphone is cumbersome and awkward. Android Wear 2.0 means you don’t have to give up any connectivity to do so, letting you track your run, receive notifications, look up a map, buy something at a store, and send a message or make a phone call all while your phone and wallet are back at home.
Android Wear has lagged behind both Apple and Samsung in providing a way to buy things with your watch, but Wear 2.0 rectifies this with support for Android Pay. It works just like Apple Pay on the Apple Watch: it’s NFC-based and can be used at contactless readers at point of sale. Push a button, Android Pay loads up, and then you can tap your watch to the reader to pay for your purchase.
Here are all the watches to get Android Wear 2.0 update:
- Moto 360 (2nd Gen.)
- Moto 360 Sport
- LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE
- LG Watch Urbane
- LG G Watch R
- Polar M600
- Casio Smart Outdoor Watch
- Casio PRO TREK Smart
- Nixon Mission
- New Balance RunIQ
- Tag Heuer Connected
- Fossil Q Wander
- Fossil Q Marshal
- Fossil Q Founder
- Michael Kors Access Bradshaw Smartwatch
- Michael Kors Access Dylan Smartwatch
- Huawei Watch
- Huawei Watch Ladies
- ASUS ZenWatch 2
- ASUS ZenWatch 3
On the whole, Android Wear 2.0 is a good improvement. It not only looks better but also is much easier to use than before. What used to take several taps and swipes now takes one or two. The new messaging and fitness features are welcome as well. But it’s the introduction of Google Assistant and the standalone app store that takes Wear 2.0 from good to great. It makes Android Wear not only much less dependent on the phone but also much more compatible with iOS — making it the toughest contender against the Apple Watch yet.
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