This week is turning out to be huge for smartwatches, because not only is the Apple Watch launching, Android Wear is getting a major update.
Google today revealed an update to Android Wear that’s going to add a lot of functionality. For example, Android Wear is gaining the ability to keep apps always on, like how many watches let you keep a watch face on at all times. Just like those watch faces, the always-on apps will be black and white when you’re not looking at it, but they’ll switch to full color once you lay your eyes on the display.
Android Wear is also gaining support for Wi-Fi on devices that have the feature built-in. This means that you can get notifications, send messages, and more whenever your watch is on Wi-Fi and your phone has a data connection. That includes when you’re out and about with your watch and your phone is at home.
Also coming to Android Wear with this update are new navigation features. You can flick your wrist away from you to scroll through your stream of notifications, and you can jump to your apps and contacts simply by tapping the watch face.
Finally, this update will enable you to draw emojis on your watch screen and then have Google figure out what you’re making. Google says that you can draw “hundreds” of different emojis, and once Google decides what you’re trying to draw, you can send it in a message.
Google says that this update is coming to all Android Wear watches in the next few weeks, with the LG Watch Urbane being the first of the bunch to get it. This is a huge update for Android Wear, adding big features like Wi-Fi support that’ll let you get alerts even if you forget your phone at home, as well as quicker access to your apps thanks to the always-on feature. And the good news is that all Android Wear watches are getting this update, so even LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live owners will get to check out the new goodies.