Google brings speaker support, new gestures and more to Android Wear

by: Jimmy WestenbergFebruary 4, 2016

It’s been a little while since we’ve seen any improvements come to Google’s wearable platform, but that changes today. Google has just announced a big update to Android Wear that will bring some new gestures, new options for sending voice messages to your contacts, and the ability to make calls and listen to messages with speaker support.

Early last year, Google introduced gestures to Android Wear that would allow users to navigate through cards without the need to touch the screen at all. With this latest update, you’ll be able to expand information cards, bring up applications and return home to your watch face with a simple push, lift or shake.

Today’s update will also allow you to send messages with more third-party applications with just your voice. Now you can send messages from apps such as Google Hangouts, Nextplus, Telegram, Viber, WeChat and WhatsApp. For instance, to send a Hangouts message, all you need to do is say “Okay Google, Send a Hangouts message to Jimmy: How’s it going?” Google understands not all folks use standard text messages to communicate with friends, so this update should make keeping in touch much easier.

Last but not least, Google has introduced speaker support to Android Wear. With speaker support, you’ll be able to take and receive calls over Bluetooth, and even listen to audio/video messages with apps like Glide. Of course, this feature won’t be available for all current Android Wear watches. You’ll need a device with a built-in speaker, and right now that only includes the Huawei Watch and ASUS ZenWatch 2 (49mm).

This big update is coming to all Android Wear watches over the next few weeks, including the new Casio Smart Outdoor Watch and Huawei Watch for Ladies.

moto 360 2nd gen review aa (17 of 27)Next: Best Android Wear watches67
  • YEAH! Let’s see if I will really be able to make calls with my stunning looking Huawei Watch ??

  • SnakeSplitskin

    who knew that the azus zen watch 2 would jump to the head of the pack in
    terms of being an actual useful smartwatch. any smartwatch that can’t
    initiate calls and operate as a phone for those calls is just half-baked
    and pretty useless. the smartwatch should be a convenient extension
    of your smartphone for all communications/messaging including making
    phone calls.

    • nikolas ostropolskiy

      That is completely a matter of opinion. I guarantee that over half of the people owning an android wear device use it for a notification base, and would never actually want to talk into their wrist. Even stemming from that, the people that actually have the android wear devices with a speaker, will likely use it once for shizngiglz and then realize that it just looks to standout ish and awkward. Until at least one in ten people talk to their wrist, I doubt it’ll catch on.

      • SnakeSplitskin

        You very well could be completely right. But I always thought the usefulness from a smartwatch is derived from how well it manages to free you up from pulling out your smartphone. The more a smartwatch excels in this area the better the smartwatch, at least in my opinion. Otherwise, why would anyone want to buy a smartwatch?

        As for phone calls, people have learned to put their phone up to their head or turn on speaker phone and hold the phone close to their mouth. So holding your hand in front of your face requires less effort. Besides, smartwatches like the Gear S2 can still manage phone calls even with your hands down to your side. the speaker is loud enough and the mic is strong enough to pick up your voice.

        With all that said, I’ll agree that we won’t know if it will catch on until we see people doing it. I think the smartwatches with phone call capability will end up outselling those that don’t whether people actually end up using the phone function on their watch by default or not. Time will tell.

  • Maxim Kearley

    You could already send messages via what’s app.

    I have the annoying “no account found” bug that doesn’t let send hangout messages via the “OK Google” on my handset, so I guess with Wear it will the same issue.

    And is this the Marshmallow update then?

  • John Doe

    Watches should have a basic option set by default ..
    Google needs to update OEM’s to what is coming down the road so they
    can better prepare upcoming models with all the needed options (like mics/speakers, NFC, etc)

  • EKMA

    waiting for my ASUS to get the update…I’m living this watch more and more every day.

  • EKMA

    oops…loving…now if my phone would learn how to spell…lol

  • Rohit Raja

    Much needed news, I have the Zenwatch 2, so yeah, im happy.

  • Dominick Wheeler

    Yes!!! This happened much sooner than I thought. Just upgraded my trusty Zen Watch to the Gunmetal ZW 2 for $150 (leather strap). Picking it up at Best Buy today after work! :)

  • CoffeeBlack

    I will say this, ever since the update my Moto 360 2nd Gen has been much smoother and faster in it’s responses than it was before it. The new gestures are alright, but I can’t take advantage of the speaker support, nor do I really need to.