Today is a big day for Android Wear. Google will be launching Android Wear 2.0 with a slew of new features, the most exciting of which being the ability to free your watch from your phone. That’s right; the smartwatch is finally mobile.
With the launch of Android Wear 2.0, gone are the days of needing to be tethered to your device via Bluetooth, to receive notifications, run apps, etc. Want to listen to Spotify but aren’t near your phone? No problem. Fire it up and listen to your favorite tunes, straight from your watch. With Android Wear 2.0, apps like Strava will be able to track and record your fitness data without requiring you to have your phone on your person. All Android Wear 2.0 compatible watches will be able to access the cloud via Bluetooth and/or a cellular network.
In addition to your watch being able to run stand alone apps, Android Wear 2.0 will also allow you to customize your downloaded watch faces with content from your favorite apps. A user will literally be able to add widgets to their favorite watch face to get access to the information that matters most to them. The demo shown at #io2016 showcased a watch face from developer ZUHANDEN that was customized with widgets for Todoist notifcations, calorie count from Life Sum, and stock info from Robinhood.
One of the most exciting features coming with Android Wear 2.0 is the ability to respond to message notifications with quick replies, handwriting recognition, or a new built-in keyobard. With quick replies, Android Wear 2.0 offers you simple contextual responses you can use to reply to messages on the fly. If a quick reply won’t suffice, hand writing recognition will allow you to compose a custom reply straight from your watch. The virtual, on-screen keyboard will also offer you the ability to compose customs responses and will function similarly to the Swype Keyboard. All three of these features will be powered by Google’s Machine Learning.
Android Wear 2.0 is truly going to free your smartwatch. Google is offering a developer preview of Android Wear 2.0, available today, here. The consumer release will be available this fall.