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Google Unveils Huge Android Wear Update Ahead of Apple Watch Release

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With all the hype surrounding Apple Watch’s release this week, Google announces an Android Wear upgrade to take on Apple’s popular smartwatch.

Google?s proprietary smartwatch operating system, Android Wear, is set to receive a significant firmware update as announced by the tech giant in a blog post published on Monday.

This upgrade is strategically released ahead of the Apple Watch?s official arrival this week. With lots of people are talking about Apple?s upcoming smartwatch, it?s easy to overlook the Mountain View company?s Android Wear platform. As such, Google apparently wants to change the conversation by disclosing its latest software improvement which focuses on four key features. Check them out below.

Always-on display

The company has added support for always-on applications that remain on the screen for as long as the user needs them. BGR mentioned that prior to this update, the only app that was constantly available on the display was the watch-face itself. Now, Android Wear users will be able to have a navigation app that gives them directions and it won?t disappear when they put their arm down. In order to preserve battery life, these apps will only be displayed in full color when the device detected that a user?s wrist is up and when they are directly looking at the watch.

New Android Wear feature - Wrist flick gestures

New Android Wear feature – Wrist flick gestures

New wrist flick gestures

For users who?ve got their hands full but really need to see new notifications, Google has included a new wrist flick gesture detection feature that allows them to scroll through cards. With this improvement, Android Wear uses can simply flick their devices sideward to view a stream of notifications. Tech site Re/Code explained that this is more convenient instead of having to swipe through various screens and use two hands in the process.

New Android Wear feature - Emoji drawings

New Android Wear feature – Emoji drawings

Quick Emoji replies

Those who love emoji and who want to reply quickly to a new message can make use of this practical feature. Google lets users draw an emoji on their smartwatch?s display. The Android Wear OS will try to guess which emoji is drawn and offer that up as a response. This is an efficient way of replying to messages since smatchwatch models don?t offer on-screen keyboards.

Wi-Fi connectivity

Probably the most important feature that this software update will bring is Wi-Fi support. Like the Apple Watch, Android Wear-powered devices do not have offline functionality and only rely on a smartphone connected via Bluetooth. Now, users can leave their phone behind and still use their smartwatch thanks to the new Wi-Fi connectivity. In the blog post, Google shared that ?As long as your watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network, and your phone has a data connection (wherever it is), you?ll be able to get notifications, send messages, and use all your favorite apps,?

This firmware upgrade is expected to be rolled out to all compatible devices in a gradual manner. Mashable reports that the first model to run the new Android Wear OS will the the LG Watch Urbane, which will hit online and physical store shelves on Friday.

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Photo Credit: ?Android.com/Wear

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