Google Launches Android Wear 2.0
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.
Google Home Max Now Available for $399; Verizon Discounts LG V30
Verizon Wireless today began selling the Google Home Max in-home assistant and speaker. The Max relies on the same Google Assistant that powers the Google Home and Google Home Mini devices, but packages the voice-based tool in a larger, music-focused box.
Google Delays Android Wear 2.0 Until 2017
Google today released Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview 3 and also shared some details on the timing for the platform's public launch. The biggest addition to the preview operating system is the availability of the Google Play Store on Android Wear devices.
LG Smartwatches On Deck for Android Wear 2.0
LG indicated via its Google+ page that it intends to update a handful of its oldest smartwatches to Android Wear 2.0. First up are the G Watch R and Watch Urbane, which should receive the new operating system this week.
Google Brings Standalone Apps to Android Wear 1.0 Hardware
Google this week updated some of its Play Store policies that will improve the availability of apps for older Android-based smartwatches. Specifically, Google has made multi-APK apps available to Android Wear 1.0 devices.