The next big version of Android Wear looks set to bring a couple of new features that have been present on the Apple Watch, if a new report is to be believed. According to information obtained by Phandroid, the next version of Android Wear will have a collection of cool, new features and was originally due for launch on July 28th but looks to be delayed until August.
The first of the new features is interactive watch faces, which will bring a new single tap gesture to Android Wear. Currently, developers are using a hacked method to offer watch faces that support the single tap gesture but this can lead to conflicts with the system.
The introduction of interactive watch faces means Google will officially support the single tap gesture but will also result in a change in the way you activate the launcher on Android Wear. Since the Android 5.1.1 update, the launcher on Android Wear can be activated by swiping from right to left and once Google brings out the next Android Wear update, this will be the only way to open the launcher.
[related_videos title=”Android Wear in video:” align=”right” type=”custom” videos=”575301,543668,608623,591854,576032,579535″] In Google’s documentation, the company details four example cases of when you might want to use the single tap gesture. The gesture can be used for everything from making aesthetic changes to the watch face and state changes to revealing more information and even launching an activity. Google is actively working on the update and should be launching an API for the new interactive watch faces in the coming weeks.
The next version of Android Wear is also expected to bring another big new feature; cross-device communication. Users of the Apple Watch are able to send heartbeats and doodles to each other and it seems that Google wants to get into the action. From the next version of Android Wear, a new communication method called Together will let Android Wear users send each other messages, sticks, emojis and doodles but this seems to be limited to just one watch face at the moment.
The string below reveals more about Together:
“Stay together by sending messages directly to your friend’s watch face”<string name=”wc_doodle_message_received”>%1$s sent you a doodle with %2$s</string>
<string name=”wc_photo_message_received”>%1$s sent you a photo with %2$s</string>
<string name=”wc_emoji_message_received”>%1$s sent you an emoji with %2$s</string>
<string name=”wc_sticker_message_received”>%1$s sent you a sticker with %2$s</string>
<string name=”wc_message_received”>%1$s sent you a message with %2$s</string>
If Google does limit the Together feature to just a single watch face (and doesn’t make it system-wide like on the Apple Watch), this will be unintuitive for users, as you’re likely to need the watch face enabled to send or receive messages. However, Google’s rapid development cycle means there’s no guarantee that Together will make it to Production and if it does, how it will be implemented.
There’s also good news for LG G Watch R users – like myself – as the update will also enable Wi-Fi on the watch. Like many users, I was quite disappointed to see that WiFi was left out of the 5.1.1 update on the G Watch R but it looks like LG will finally roll out the feature in the next version.
With the Apple Watch offering a credible alternative to Android Wear, the next version of Google’s wearable platform could be the most crucial in its development cycle yet. Features such as the single tap gesture and Together will offer additional features to improve the appeal of Android Wear but it remains to be seen whether this is enough to combat the impressive adoption of the Apple Watch.