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Google Launches Android Wear 2.0

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Feb 8, 2017, 12:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper
updated Feb 8, 2017, 12:31 PM

Google today officially made Android Wear 2.0 available to device makers and the public. The wearable platform has been in preview status since May 2016 and its release has been delayed for several months. Android Wear 2.0 includes a handful of key improvements over earlier versions of the operating system. First, Android Wear apps can now run directly on wearables without a nearby smartphone. Standalone apps will make Android-based wearables more useful on their own. This goes hand-in-hand with added support for LTE data connections built directly into the OS, allowing users to install watch apps directly to their wearable via WiFi or cellular connections. Android Wear 2.0 also adds the Google Play Store, where smartwatch owners will be able to browse for apps via keyword and voice search directly from their wrist. Other features include a circular user interface with swipe-to-dismiss behaviors, one-click Google sign-in, and improved complications. Watch faces, for example, will be able to show data from other apps, such as fitness info. The messaging app gains a significant update, too, thanks to better handwriting recognition, voice controls, and an on-device keyboard. Android Wear 2.0 also supports Apple's iOS so iPhone owners can use Android Wear watches. Last, Android Wear 2.0 brings the new Google Assistant to user's wrists, where people will be able to speak the "OK, Google" command to perform voice-based searches. Android Wear 2.0 will ship on the new LG Watch Sport and Watch Style, which were announced separately, beginning Feb. 10. Google says the platform will reach a number of existing supported devices in the weeks ahead. Some include the Asus ZenWatch 2 and 3; Casio Smart Outdoor and Pro Trek Smart; Fossil Q Found, Marshal, and Wander; Huawei Watch; LG G Watch R, Watch Urbane, Watch Urbane 2nd Ed; Moto 360 (2nd Gen and Sport); New Balance RunIQ; and the Tag Heuer Connected.

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