Google launched the new version of its Android Wear platform, which will first be available on a pair of smart watches from LG Electronics – “designed in collaboration with Google”. Android Wear 2.0 was delayed from late last year and, in the meantime, the Android-powered smart watch segment struggled. With the new platform not available for the lucrative Christmas holiday sales period, vendors shied away from launching new products.
Google said the new platform offers users “more innovative watch faces, better workouts, new ways to use apps, more ways to stay in touch and on-the-go help from the Google Assistant”. Also new is the ability to choose and download apps directly from an on-watch Google Play store, rather than this needing to be done via a paired smartphone.
Google also talked-up the ability of mobile-connected devices to function away from smartphones, such as staying in-touch with calls and messages, music streaming from Play Music, and connected app use. With Google also placing a significant effort on its Google Assistant, Android Wear brings the technology “to your wrist, so you can find answers and get things done – hands free”. It is initially available in English and German, and will be available in other languages “in the coming months”.
LG is offering two Android Wear 2.0 watches – LG Watch Style and LG Watch Sport. Watch Style is said to be “thin, light, beautiful to look at and comfortable to wear”. It has a rotating power button – similar to Apple’s “digital crown” – to scroll through streams, bring up the app launcher, or access Google Assistant.
LG’s Watch Sport is “Android Wear’s most powerful watch yet”, including NFC for payments, GPS for tracking and navigation, heart rate sensor and cellular connectivity. It has dedicated buttons for Google Fit and Android Pay, as well as the rotating power button.
Android Wear 2.0 will also be available as an upgrade to some existing smart watches, from vendors including Asus, Casio, Fossil, Huawei, LG, Motorola and Tag Heuer.