Google will launch a software update for Android Wear smartwatches soon that will add many new features, including some that won't require the use of a phone. Google will also add some hands-free features to Android Wear devices in the next update, such as flicking a wrist to move to a new card, along with support for always-on apps on the smartwatch.
Here's the breakdown of what will be included in the update:
- Hands free: Flick your wrist outward to advance to the "next card" in the stream. Flick your wrist inward to go to the "previous card" in the stream. Glances when you turn your wrist to look at the phone make getting info really fast and easy, no hands required.
- Phone free: Features like Offline music, GPS and Wifi support (new with this release) make it possible to leave your phone behind. As long as your phone is online (cellular data or wifi) and your watch is connected to an available wifi network, they will be able to work together (doesn't have to be the same network).
- Always-on screen, always-on apps: Android Wear watches are always at the ready - with most Wear watches you can check the time without having to move it around. Now, the same applies to apps on your watch without it going to sleep. So, if you are on a run and want to keep Maps up to find your way, or you're grocery shopping and want to have your Google Keep list up for easy access, you can.
- Draw Emoji to reply to messages: If you want to quickly reply to a friend or colleague (using SMS, Hangouts, any messaging app) but aren't in a place where you can use Voice to respond, just draw an emoji on your watch face and we'll recognize the closest emoji and sent it over.
The LG Watch Urbane will be the first device with these new features, and other Android Wear smartwatches will get this over-the-air update sometime in the next few weeks.