The first units of the highly anticipated Apple Watch will start shipping later this week. That has encouraged Google to act. The search engine giant is not about to hand the smartwatch market to Apple on a silver platter. After all, Google has been there longer than its rival. That is why the company has just introduced a major update for its smartwatch and wearables operating system.
Google’s Android Wear operating system is now able to support Wi-Fi. That means that wearables running on this OS will be able to connect to smartphones not only through Bluetooth, but also through Wi-Fi.
Apple Watch also offers built-in Wi-Fi support. In addition, Bluetooth connectivity has its flaws as reported by the first reviewers. For instance, a smartwatch and a smartphone can be connected via Bluetooth only if the distance between them is less than 30 feet.
The second big update that rolled out on Android Wear wearables will allow them to support always-on applications. Until recently, only one app was non-stop available for smartwatches that rely on Android Wear. That was the application which showed the time.
Now, however, Android Wear users will be able to view other apps, like Google Maps direction on their watch’s face. In other words, smartwatch consumers will not need to tap on the screen to view information on new notifications from their favourite app. It will be constantly displayed alongside the time display.
Google has also released updates that involve new navigation option that reminds of Apple Watch’s “Digital Crown” navigation mechanism. Android Wear users will finally be able to navigate through the interface of their wearable using the hands. In addition to that, by simply flicking their wrist to scroll up or down the gadget’s menu. Again, just like on the Apple Watch, Android Wear users will get the chance to send emojis by simply drawing them on the face of their device.
Google’s latest Android Wear update will be released to users gradually. LG’s G Watch will be the first to get it. In just a few weeks, however, more devices will be upgraded. Among them will, for instance, be Sony’s Smartwatch 3 and Moto 360.
While Google’s update seems to balances the forces between Android Wear devices and the Apple Watch (at least on a software level), it will urge Apple to upgrade its first smartwatch faster than initially expected. After all, many of the new Android Wear features are too similar with those packed by the Apple Watch. In the past, such similarities have sometimes led to patent lawsuits.