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Google introduces Android Oreo to your wrist through Android Wear beta program

The beta program is limited to just one Android Wear smartwatch, but the hope is that more watches will be supported over time.
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October 2, 2017

Verizon might have given up on Android Wear, but Google is still hard at work with its three-year-old wearable platform. That work now includes a beta program for Android Wear that allows folks to play around with upcoming features.

For some context, the beta program is extremely limited – unless you have the LG Watch Sport, the most you can do is hope that the beta program supports your watch. Also, and arguably most exciting, the features you test out through the beta program are currently based on Android 8.0 Oreo.

From a consumer standpoint, this might not amount to much, since we’re still talking about the Android Wear 2.0 interface. In other words, the main features still include standalone apps, complications, Google Assistant, and mobile payments, among others.

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The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic being held in someone's hand.

What the beta program currently does is upgrade the underlying API level to API 26, which grants the beta access to notification channels and background limits. The former is particularly useful for those who rely on apps that have their own notifications rather than just forward the ones displayed on your phone, while the latter makes sure that doesn’t rapidly drain your battery in the background.

All put together, the features might seem small, but it furthers along Android Wear’s apparent desire to cut its dependence on your phone.

If you have an LG Watch Sport and want to sign up for the Android Wear beta program, just head here and sign up. The factory image will then be automatically downloaded, but keep in mind there are some known issues with the beta, all of which you can read up on at the source link below.