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Posts tagged ‘Android Wear’

9
Feb

6 improvements we want to see in Android Wear


android wear

As smart watches become an ever increasing part of our lifestyle, the battle is on for supremacy amongst the platforms that power the devices that adorn our wrists. Google’s Android Wear is just one of these platforms and while its smartphone counterpart continues to dominate the smartphone market, Android Wear hasn’t had as much success.

Coupled with the dominance of the Apple Watch in the market – Apple sold 1 million watches in the first day, while Android Wear took a year to reach the same milestone – Google’s platform certainly faces a challenge. What does it need to be able to dominate in wearables though? We’ve used Android Wear across many devices (as well as the Apple Watch and the Gear S2), so here’s a few of the features we’d like to see in the next version of Android Wear.

1. Freedom for OEMs

The biggest improvement we’d like to see in the next version of Android Wear is freedom for OEMs to innovate and create unique experiences. As we’ve seen from the Gear S2, Apple Watch and the Pebble range, having the freedom to customise the software to suit a particular style of smartwatch can create excellent – and very unique – experiences.

Unlike its smartphone-powering sibling, Android Wear offers the same experience across multiple devices and this lack of freedom means OEMs are limited to innovating via hardware only. This could potentially be one of the reasons that Samsung opted to use its Tizen OS – as opposed to Android Wear – for the Gear S2, as this offered it the freedom to create an interface that is capable of utilising the unique rotating bezel.


gear-s2-thumb Samsung Gear S2 review65

In comparison to this, Android Wear offers a cards approach that relies heavily on touch input for navigating the smartwatch. Offering a homogenous experience across devices is certainly not a bad thing as it means you can use any Android Wear smartwatch and feel comfortable, but it can result in the platform becoming stale.

There’s no doubt that sales of Android Wear devices have been less than initially estimated and the initial buzz around the platform seems to have worn off as a series of updates – that, admittedly, have bought a range of improvements and new features – have failed to excite. Can you imagine if an OEM like Motorola or Huawei had been able to create customised interfaces running atop Android Wear to make full use of the round display on the Moto 360 2nd Gen and Huawei Watch respectively?

samsung gear s2 review aa (9 of 24)

2. Physical buttons

In a world dominated by touch screens, it seems strange to be saying we want to see more physical buttons, but this is exactly what Android Wear needs. Take two of its chief rivals – the Gear S2 and the Apple Watch – and both offer a physical element that is crucial to the experience. The former has a unique rotating bezel and the latter has a digital crown, and while Android Wear devices have had physical buttons on the side, they don’t actually serve a purpose.

Imagine having two buttons on the right of your Android Wear device and – exploring this further – being able to customise them to suit your needs. If you frequently interact with your watch via your voice, you could have one button set to launch Google’s voice search. If you prefer to have different watch faces for different times of the day, you could easily switch by pressing a physical button.


moto 360 2nd gen review aa (4 of 27)See also: Best Android Wear watches (February 2016)58

Furthermore, instead of swiping up and down to navigate the display, you could even use the two buttons to replicate that feature, or even have one button to go back a step and another to launch an app drawer. Relying solely on touch inputs has worked so far for Android Wear, but offering physical buttons may provide the extra – and unique functionality – that is arguably missing from Google’s wearable platform.

moto 360 2nd gen review aa (14 of 27)

3. A slicker experience

At launch, Android Wear’s cards-first approach certainly offered something unique as it brought the power and familiarity of Google Now to your wrist but more than 18 months later, the interface hasn’t changed all too much. Broken down to the essentials, Android Wear is a collection of cards displaying useful information and notifications seamlessly together in one list and while it’s definitely functional, we’d certainly expect Google to offer an evolution of an experience in the next version of Android Wear.

A key problem with the cards approach is notifications; if you have ten or even twenty unread notifications, scrolling through them on a small smartwatch display isn’t exactly user-friendly. Furthermore, notifications are in a chronological order and if you’re like me, not checking notifications for a couple of hours results in an endless list of cards. By way of comparison, the Gear S2 offers notifications to the left of the home screen with each app having its own “screen” and while this approach has its own problems, scrolling left and right is a lot easier than navigating a long list of notifications.

Obviously, each platform has its own approach and there’s plenty that like the chronological cards layout of Android Wear, but in the next version, we’d like to see Google change up notifications a little. Whether it’s revolutionising the entire interface or just tweaking notifications to make them more user-friendly, Android Wear’s approach is certainly in need of a revamp, and in the next version of Android Wear, we’d like to see a revamped experience that has less swiping around a small screen.

moto 360 2nd gen review aa (24 of 27)

4. A revamped interface for round displays

While notifications may need a little tweak, the biggest problem facing Android Wear is its interface on round displays. From its initial launch, Android Wear has been designed with square displays in mind, and while this is acceptable for some devices, a lot of OEMs are opting for round displays.

OEMs have approach round displays and Android Wear in a multitude of ways but no approach yet has felt completely natural. On most round Wear devices, cropped notifications and text only appearing in the middle of the display are ‘normal’ occurrences, yet there is definitely a need for innovation here.

Whether it is Google itself innovating in Android Wear as a whole or individual OEMs having the freedom to innovate with the experience on round displays, Android Wear definitely needs to improve on how it handles round displays. As we see smartwatches rise in price and hardware improve, Google needs to ensure its software keeps up otherwise we may see OEMs looking at alternative platforms to power their wearables.

samsung gear s2 review aa (19 of 24)

5. Multiple input options

Unlike smartphones, replying to messages or notifications from your wrist poses a number of input challenges. At the moment, Android Wear supports voice input or quick replies and while its voice recognition is certainly impressive, there’s definitely room for improvement, not least as voice input isn’t always appropriate for a particular environment.

In the next version of Android Wear, we’d definitely like to see the list of input options expand past its currently-limited offering. Instead of limiting users to just voice input, it would be nice to see Google include support for additional inputs. For example, having a keyboard – however basic – on your wrist would certainly be useful for when you can’t use voice input. The lack of screen real estate does limit what Google is able to do but adding a T9 keyboard like the Gear S2 would offer a potential solution to this problem.

huawei watch unboxing aa (21 of 26)

6. Improved Battery Life

If there’s one area that Android Wear certainly fails to deliver, it’s in the battery department; we’ve seen improvements in battery life since the launch of Android Wear but none have quite delivered the excellent battery life we’ve all been hoping for.

From my personal experience, most Android Wear devices can last a full day, but will then require recharging during the middle of the following day. This then means you have to charge your wearable every night and on more than one occasion, I’ve walked out my house in the morning without putting my wearable on. In comparison, as I covered in my Gear S2 follow up review, I’m able to get two days minimum from the Gear S2 and often, it can last three days (albeit with very low usage). While it may not seem like much of a difference, having to charge your wearable every other day instead of every day does improve the overall experience.

Wearables in video:

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Whether it’s through optimising the software or reducing the requirements of Android Wear, battery life is a key feature that Google definitely needs to fix in the next version of its wearable OS. Sure, manufacturers could increase the size of the battery but, as an example, the 250mAh battery in the Gear S2 is smaller than most Android Wear devices (that are atypically 300-400mAh in capacity) yet offers much better battery life. With wearables having much larger limitations in terms of design compared to smartphones, the onus is on Google to improve Android Wear so it is optimised to offer the best possible battery life.

Android-Wear-Vs-Apple-Watch-9

What do you want to see from Android Wear?

Google’s smartwatch platform is certainly heavily adopted by both, manufacturers and developers alike, but it is running the risk of growing stale. The next version of Android Wear is likely to bring several improvements but we’d like to see Google present a well-thought out experience that has been optimised for wearables.

There’s several improvements we could have listed but we’ve opted for the major improvements that will really enhance the experience on Android Wear devices. What do you want to see from the next version of Android Wear and is there anything you’d like to add to our list above? Let us know your views in the comments below.

8
Feb

Doze Mode and app permissions may soon come to Android Wear devices


moto 360 2nd gen review aa (21 of 27)

Google just recently announced a big update to the Android Wear platform that would bring a number of useful features to all current Wear watches. Among those changes are official speaker support for placing and receiving calls on your wrist, as well as a handful of new gestures that should come in handy. As of now, we’ve only seen the second-generation Moto 360 receive the update to Marshmallow. In the release notes for that update, we can see that Google actually left out a few notable features that would eventually be making their way to Android Wear devices.

Alongside a few of the features we knew would be coming to the watch, Motorola also explains that the Moto 360 would be getting Doze Mode and app permissions with this new update.

Moto 360 Marshmallow

It makes perfect sense for Doze Mode and app permissions to be available on Android Wear. As explained in the release notes, if you’re not using your Wear device, Doze Mode will kick in and help save some precious battery life. This is also bolstered by a better screen dimming implementation that will help reduce battery drain when always-on screen is turned on. Also, with the addition of app permissions, now you’ll be able to have more control over what you share with your installed apps.

The company also mentions that the Moto Body Running app will come to standard Moto 360 (2nd Gen.) devices.

It’s worth noting that Google hasn’t commented on Doze Mode or app permissions coming to Android Wear, so we aren’t entirely sure if these features will make their way to all devices. It would make sense that all smartwatches will get these new features, but we’ll unfortunately have to wait to know for sure. Google says the big update will be rolled out to devices over the next few weeks, and we’ll let you know if these new features are present on other devices.


huawei watch review aa (17 of 33)Next: Best Android Wear watches57

6
Feb

Latest Android Wear update is on its way to the Moto 360 (2015)


motorola_moto_360_2015_launch_front_moto_body_heart_TAGood news for anyone currently wearing a Moto 360 (2015)! It looks like Motorola is pushing out the Marshmallow update to the smartwatch, bringing all those newly announced Android Wear features to the stylish wearable. Things like Doze support, improved gestures, and alternate messaging platforms are all on board, plus all the things that Motorola has baked in. While that update does enable speakers on watches that have them, the Moto 360 does not include any kind of speaker, so don’t get your hopes up there.

Motorola is enabling support for six new languages in the update, plus tons of bug fixes related to step counts, audio playback, and the mandatory stability and performance improvements.

The update should be rolling out over the next few days, so keep an eye out for it.

source: Motorola

Come comment on this article: Latest Android Wear update is on its way to the Moto 360 (2015)

5
Feb

Android Wear nabs new gestures and phone call features


Google today introduced Android Wear 1.4, the latest version of its wearable platform. This one’s not a minor update with bug fixes and patches; indeed, there’s plenty of new and cool stuff to found.

AndroidWear-DesignedForYourWrist

Key among the features is the ability to make and take calls via Bluetooth connectivity. Available for the Huawei Watch and ASUS ZenWatch 2, the capability is coming to more wearables in time.

To take advantage of the calling, the watch must include a speaker.  Those that do will also be able to listen to audio messages from apps such as Glide.

Additionally, Android Wear has baked in some new gestures. For instance, users can expand cards, open the app drawer, or return to the home screen via pushing, lifting, and shaking – respectively.

Last, but not least, Android Wear users can now use voice more actively as part of the experience. It’s now possible to use your voice to send messages from apps like Google Hangouts, Nextplus, Telegram, Viber, WeChat, and WhatsApp.

Android Wear

The post Android Wear nabs new gestures and phone call features appeared first on AndroidGuys.

4
Feb

Google brings speaker support, new gestures and more to Android Wear


Huawei-Watch-Elegant-Jewel-5

It’s been a little while since we’ve seen any improvements come to Google’s wearable platform, but that changes today. Google has just announced a big update to Android Wear that will bring some new gestures, new options for sending voice messages to your contacts, and the ability to make calls and listen to messages with speaker support.

Early last year, Google introduced gestures to Android Wear that would allow users to navigate through cards without the need to touch the screen at all. With this latest update, you’ll be able to expand information cards, bring up applications and return home to your watch face with a simple push, lift or shake.

Today’s update will also allow you to send messages with more third-party applications with just your voice. Now you can send messages from apps such as Google Hangouts, Nextplus, Telegram, Viber, WeChat and WhatsApp. For instance, to send a Hangouts message, all you need to do is say “Okay Google, Send a Hangouts message to Jimmy: How’s it going?” Google understands not all folks use standard text messages to communicate with friends, so this update should make keeping in touch much easier.

Last but not least, Google has introduced speaker support to Android Wear. With speaker support, you’ll be able to take and receive calls over Bluetooth, and even listen to audio/video messages with apps like Glide. Of course, this feature won’t be available for all current Android Wear watches. You’ll need a device with a built-in speaker, and right now that only includes the Huawei Watch and ASUS ZenWatch 2 (49mm).

This big update is coming to all Android Wear watches over the next few weeks, including the new Casio Smart Outdoor Watch and Huawei Watch for Ladies.


huawei watch review aa (17 of 33)Next: Best Android Wear watches57

4
Feb

Android Wear gets some hands-free upgrades


android_wear_update_speaker_support

The Android developers with Google announced some updates they are getting ready to roll out to devices running the Android Wear platform. The focus of the updates is on improving the hands-free operation of devices like smartwatches to help people for those times when their hands are full. The updates will also bring support for speakers in devices that have them present.

Android Wear already had some limited support for gestures, but that is being expanded with the latest update. Along with the flicking action used to scroll through cards, users will now have options available to push to expand a card, lift to open up the list of apps, or shake to return to the home screen. For users who make use of the gestures, this will mean less tapping on the screen.

Android Wear is getting expanded support for alternative platforms that can be used to send messages using voice commands. Apps like Google Hangouts, Nextplus, Telegram, Viber, WeChat and WhatsApp can all be launched using voice commands. Users will just have to issue an “OK Google…” command like “Send a WhatsApp message to Nathan: I’ll be right there.”

Finally, for owners of the Huawei Watch or the ASUS ZenWatch 2 that have speakers built-in just waiting for their purpose, Android Wear will now support those speakers. That means users can do things like make or take phone calls using their watch and just speaking into it Dick Tracy-style assuming their watch has a current Bluetooth connection to their phone. Audio and video messages can also be listened to on the watch using apps like Glide.

The developers indicate these updates will be rolling out to all Android Wear watches over the next few weeks with some devices seeing the updates starting as soon as today.

source: Android

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4
Feb

Motorola’s now selling the Moto 360 Sport through the Google Store in Canada


Moto-360-Sport

Motorola has just launched the latest iteration of its Moto 360 smartwatch, the Sport, on the Google Store in Canada. The device has been available to purchase in the region exclusively from Best Buy in various colors for the past couple of weeks, but it’s now listed on the search engine giant’s official Android Wear page in the gorgeous black colorway for $379.99 CAD ($280 USD).

For those who missed its announcement back in December 2015, the Sport is a more lightweight version of the traditional leather-band Moto 360. It’s aimed at the more active amongst us and comes with a plethora of nifty sensors which track your daily steps, calorie intake and heart rate. You can also pre-load music onto the device for wireless playback during exercise.

As the Moto 360 Sport runs the latest build of Google’s Android Wear open-source operating system, you have the facility to place calls, send texts, peruse notifications, keep track of to-do lists, follow directions and, of course, check the time without having to pull out your smartphone, too.

If you’re based in Canada, like the sound of the Moto 360 Sport and want to pick one up in black from the Google Store — hit the source link below.

Source: Google Store

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3
Feb

Moto 360 (2014) and Sony SmartWatch 3 are no longer for sale in the Google Store


Sony SmartWatch 3

Smartwatches have only been around for a few years, but just like everything, what was once new is now old. The original Moto 360 and the Sony SmartWatch 3 are no longer being sold in the Google Store.

Their webpages are still active, but clearly state “no longer available for purchase”. The purchase button is also greyed out and only says “not available”.

However, Motorola has already released a 2nd gen Moto 360 a while ago, which consumers are more likely to purchase, and have a new Moto 360 Sport out too. It isn’t too much of a shock that the Google Store has stopped selling the 1st gen version. Sony, on the other hand, has not released a Sony SmartWatch 4 yet, but you can at least get the Sony SmartWatch 3 at other stores if you really want one.

Source: Google Store (1), (2)

Come comment on this article: Moto 360 (2014) and Sony SmartWatch 3 are no longer for sale in the Google Store

27
Jan

Robinhood for Android Wear has just been announced


Robinhood_Androidwear

Robinhood, the zero-commission stock trading app, has taken to its blog today to announce the rollout of an Android Wear compatible version of its app!

With this first version of its Android Wear app, Robinhood is bringing many of the powerful features that make the mobile app such a great tool, to the convenience of your wrist. Included in these features is the ability to view your portfolio performance, scroll vertically to view your entire watchlist, and tap on any stock to view your holdings. To track global markets in real time, the app will notify you with account and trading notifications ensuring you never miss a step. In addition to all this, the app will feature Robinhood’s signature day and night mode which reflect market hours and moves.

If zero-commisson stock trading seems like something you’d like to try out hit the link below to download the app. For those of you who already have the app and are awaiting the Android Wear update though, the update is rolling out now so expect to see it soon!

Download Robinhood from the Play Store

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26
Jan

Google I/O 2016: our early predictions for Google’s big event


Google’s annual developer conference is one of the most exclusive must-attend events on the Android calendar. I was lucky enough to go last year and got to meet Sundar Pichai and Larry Page for the effort. Rubbing shoulders with CEOs, engineers, developers and enthusiasts aside, though, what else can you expect from Google I/O 2016?

Google I/O 2016 dates and location

Back on January 12, freshly minted Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted the dates and location for Google I/O 2016: May 18-20 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. For those unfamiliar with the location, it’s a long way away from any hotels and doesn’t exactly feature great public transport options, sparking widespread speculation that it might have been chosen to provide Google the opportunity to show off its self-driving cars…

Google I/O 2016 app

The official Google I/O 2016 app isn’t in Google Play yet, but each year the old app gets replaced with the new one, so when the new one goes live you can grab it via the button below. The Google I/O app includes livestreams for the keynote and major sessions, schedules, maps, reminders and some fun stuff.

Install Google I/O app

What to expect from Google I/O 2016

Andy-Android-1

Android N

This one is a given, because Google announced a while back that annual developer previews of the next major Android release will be presented at each year’s I/O conference. 2016 will be no different, with the Android N developer preview making its first appearance. The preview will receive regular updates for the remainder of the year before being released in its final form at Nexus time in late September or early October.

As far as what Android N will deliver at I/O, it’s a little early to say. There’s still time for the dark theme and advanced power menu options to appear in Marshmallow and features like Force Touch are unlikely to make it to stock Android this quickly.

Google may try to make Doze functional even when the device is in motion, a new messaging app is already in store, multi-window mode should be finished by then and there will be even more user-facing controls and refinements added to Android N. The move to OpenJDK from Java APIs will also get some airplay but I wouldn’t expect any major visual changes.


android 6.0 marshmallowSee also: Android 6.0 Marshmallow features46

Self-driving cars

Google announced at Google I/O 2015 that the first self-driving cars would be released on the streets of Mountain View in 2016. So what better time to demo what they’re capable of than at Google I/O 2016? It may be a little far-fetched to expect Google to arrange transport for thousands of I/O attendees via its tiny autonomous vehicles, but the event will definitely give everyone the chance to take a ride in one.

google self driving car prototype

The Google division in charge of self-driving cars formerly known as Google[x] – and now simply known as X – has just received a new CEO who is, incidentally, a former Ford and Hyundai exec. We can expect to see John Krafcik take the stage with all the latest on Google’s autonomous vehicles and their expected commercial release in 2020.

Android Wear

A massive shake up of Android Wear is long overdue. The mobile platform came out early, moved sluggishly, and has now been surpassed by both Apple’s wearable platform and even Samsung’s Tizen OS. With multiple OEMs grumbling last year that if Google didn’t start pushing the wearable platform more aggressively they would consider developing their own, it’s now crunch time for Android Wear. I can’t tell you what will be announced, but I sure hope something significant is.

Project Ara

I was at the ATAP session last year and witnessed a fully functional Project Ara prototype get assembled on stage in seconds. The camera module was left out until the device had booted up, then it was inserted, runtime detected and working within seconds. Pretty impressive stuff. With the official trial of Project Ara being delayed until 2016 you know there will be some stage time dedicated to it.

Project Ara smartphone


Project Tango Lenovo logoSee also: Lenovo launching Project Tango phone1

Android Auto

Yet again we’re expecting Android Auto to be front and center at I/O 2016. Android Auto is really starting to enter the mainstream and the first sub-$20,000 vehicle was just announced last week: the Hyundai Elantra. 2016 may well be the year that Android Auto stops being something only geeks talk about and starts being something everyone talks about.

Project Aura

Project Aura is Google Glass 2.0. At least it would be if the original Glass had ever gone anywhere other than the Explorer Edition. Aura is supposedly the Consumer Edition. There’s also the enterprise-only Glass that recently showed up in FCC documents which show a slightly revised design with a hinge and larger prism, but what final form Project Aura will take and when it will be available is anyone’s guess.

Google Glass Enterprise Edition AA 1

 

Virtual reality

Following Google’s creation of a new virtual reality division called, creatively enough, Virtual Reality, you can expect VR to take a more central role at I/O this year. It’s unlikely there will be any products to discuss or any keynote announcements but there might be some hints and sneak peeks of what the newly formed team is working on. Keep an eye out for more on 360 video, YouTube quality, Cardboard partnerships and Expeditions.

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Chrome OS

I actually don’t think there will be any major Chrome OS announcement at I/O 2016 unless they are related to the arrival of Material Design. Despite the recent rumor that Chrome OS would be folded into Android, Google officially denied the claim. Furthermore, Google’s SVP of Android, Chrome OS and Chromecast, Hiroshi Lockheimer, has assured everyone that there will be a range of new Chromebooks in 2016, but we probably won’t see them until Nexus time.

There’s also sure to be more on Nest, GoogleOn and smart home integration, Project Fi, the Internet of Things generally and project Brillo specifically, and maybe even something about a commercial application for Project Soli’s radar sensor for wearables.

What do you expect to see at Google I/O 2016? Will you be there?

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