Android Wear 2.0, which is going to be officially set free by Google next month, has seen its latest developer preview release… and it’s good news for iPhone users.
We all knew that the Android Wear / iOS experience was going to be vastly improved beyond the very basic setup currently on offer but the fifth and final developer preview gives us a first-hand look at exactly what iPhone users can expect when pairing up with their Google-powered smartwatch running the updated OS.
This is the first 2.0 developer preview that includes iOS support, meaning that devs can create standalone apps that iPhone users are able to download from the smartwatch’s onboard Play Store. On the current Android Wear version in the real world, Android smartphone users had to use their handsets to download and sync apps – while iPhone users were only able to tap into notifications and pre-loaded Google app package.
Developers simply need to mark their app submissions as standalone friendly and they will show up in the new wrist-based Play Store.
As well as the new apps, notifications have been revamped for iPhone users and the automatic activity tracking feature has been switched on. This means, for example, a wearer’s Endomondo app could kick in and track a workout without any screen touching at all.
Android Wear is widely expected to launch on February 9th. Reports suggest the revamped platform will first arrive on a pair of new flagship LG smartwatches. The likes of Tag Heuer, New Balance, Casio and ZTE have also announced that they will be bringing Wear 2.0 devices to market in the coming months. A vast array of existing Android Wear smartwatches are in line for an update to 2.0 as well.
Android Wear 2.0, first announced back in May 2016 at Google I/O, is the most significant update to the platform so far. It was supposed to launch in the fall of 2016 but Google pushed the release in order to ensure software quality requirements.
As well as the standalone apps mentioned above and the automatic activity tracking, Wear 2.0’s UI has been redesigned with Google’s Material Design standards now a lot more prominent. Wearers will see big differences with menus, icons and even the ease of selecting new watch faces.
The update also brings improved messaging and input functionality for users – with new native keyboards – and watch face complications that are able to pull information snippets in from installed apps.