Google has announced the upcoming release of its Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch operating system early February in an email to developers. Initially expected in fall 2016, the OS update is packed with new functions for owners of recent generations of compatible smartwatches.
Wear 2.0 focuses on customization, fitness, and messaging, with a major goal of becoming a standalone device independent from the smartphone. An important part of achieving that’s an on-device Play Store that will allow users to just download watch-specific apps.
Back in September, Google delayed the release of its next version of Android Wear until 2017 to hammer out issues that arose during developer preview builds. The company is working on two unannounced smartwatches of its own with an unnamed manufacturer it has collaborated with in the past.
Android Wear 2.0 brings a new interface with, for example, a reworked notifications sys, offering additional content and actions. Additional, Android Wear 2.0 users can enjoy more onscreen info with more options for customizing what’s displayed (temperature, time, number of steps, etc.). This version of Android Wear also brings new eagerly awaited interactions, such as a veritable onscreen keyboard and handwriting recognition for writing messages with your finger, for example.
As with the smartphone version of Android, the new Android Wear 2.0 is likely to roll out progressively, coming to the different brands and models at different times. Android Wear notably powers the Huawei Watch, the Moto 360, the LG Watch Urbane, the Sony SmartWatch 3 and the Asus ZenWatch 3. Most of these models should be in line for the update. Samsung, on other hand, has its own in-house operating system called Tizen.
The roll-out could also be accompanied by Google’s first own-brand smartwatches, currently known under their codenames ‘Swordfish’ and ‘Angelfish.’