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Google announced a sizable update to its Android Wear platform on Monday, days before the Apple Watch lands on the market to much fanfare. Google’s update to Android Wear is the platform’s largest yet, making it more usable, and even gets rid of the need to use it with a smartphone.

Most notably, the update adds Wi-Fi support, so that as long as your watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network, and your phone has a data connection (wherever it is), you’ll be able to get notifications, send messages, and use all your apps. While Android Wear isn’t completely independent of a smartphone, it’s making a step in that direction.

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Previously, Android Wear already supported GPS and offline music support, meaning you could leave your phone at home when you go on a run.

With Monday’s Android Wear update, you can now communicate how agonizing that run is with the ability to draw emojis directly on the watch screen. Google’s software will recognize your drawing and send it via message or text.

Many Android Wear watches include an always-on screen to see the time. With Monday’s update, Google is expanding this option to apps, so they can stay visible with information. Using gestures, the screen is only full color when you’re actively looking at it—so you get the info you need, and you save on battery life, Google says.

Speaking of gestures, you can now just flick your wrist to scroll through your notifications and news stream. Furthermore, your apps and contacts are now just a tap away from the watch face. Just touch the screen, and you’ll be able to start apps and send messages immediately.

These updates are coming to all seven Android Wear watches over the next few weeks, starting with the new LG Watch Urbane. Other Android Wear watches available include the Moto 360, LG G Watch, Asus ZenWatch, Samsung Gear Live, Sony SmartWatch 3, and the LG G Watch R, all available to purchase from the Android website.

Source: Google

  • Merman123

    “Like the Apple Watch, many Android Wear watches include an always-on screen to see the time”

    The Apple watch does not have an always on screen.

    • Okada San

      Are you making things up? Nowhere does it say, “Like the Apple Watch…”. Unless the author edited the piece.

      • Merman123

        Yes he has edited and didn’t mention it. Clearly I wouldn’t make this up.

      • Jake Smith

        Thanks. My mistake.

    • Benedict

      Are you serious??

      • Merman123

        Yes I’m serious. It doesn’t. You must raise your wrist in order to activate the screen.

      • Benedict

        I didn’t know that! That makes the Apple Watch even more a heavy power hog with it’s 18 hrs battery life. In contrast, my G Watch lasts easily 30+ hrs – always on!

  • MrJohnBlaze

    if they make android wear compatible with ios ill get the urbane watch the apple watch looks to much like a cheap ipod to me

  • mike

    Quite a useful feature that was probably quite difficult to produce, well done to the Google devs.

  • And it is updates on their devices that get them on par with Apple’s product. But when Apple releases an update they’ll pull ahead again. Apple isn’t dumb, they’ve got additional features just sitting in an update. I predict an update around mid June that will fix some issues with application load times and some features.

    • John

      They would be working on something that would be pushed out around the time of WWDC, maybe even in line with this rumoured iOS 8.4

      Edit: Just to clarify, obviously iOS 8.4 isn’t rumoured…I meant the release date of iOS 8.4 is anyones guess.

    • Freddy Born

      its called competition. its a good thing

    • N&LH

      Agreed but Android will copy these additional features then Android fans will say all the innovation coming from Android. Same thing with this update.