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Android Wear features can now arrive via Google Play for more timely improvements

A Google employee has confirmed that specific Android Wear updates will now be rolled out via the Google Play Store to speed up improvements between OTAs.

Published onOctober 10, 2017

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Google was over and done with Android Wear, given the dearth of smartwatch news at its recent product launch event — not to mention the Android Wear section’s subsequent removal from the Google Store. However, Google has still been working on the platform lately and, in a message on the Android Wear developers page on Google+ (via Android Police), Google’s Hoi Lam detailed a significant change to the way the team is now handling its updates.

Lam says that, in a bid to roll out more improvements between smartwatch OTAs, some new features will arrive through the Google Play Store. This is part of a trend we have been seeing more of in the past couple of years with Android smartphone manufacturers creating individual Play Store versions of apps usually baked into their own UIs. This is usually done for the same reason: so that OEMs can roll out individual updates rather than waiting to bundle a number of upgrades together in one over-the-air update.

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In fact, Lam said that one of these Play Store rollouts had already occurred last week and included:

  • 3rd party chat app support in Contacts
  • Reduced accidental entry into the watch face picker
  • Improved Play Store discoverability for new users
  • Other features and bug fixes

This seems like another positive step for Android Wear, though it seems like the platform isn’t growing at a particularly impressive rate. Earlier this year, it was suggested that the Android Wear platform might have even been overtaken by Samsung’s Tizen smartwatch OS. But neither offer much in the way of must-have features that you can’t get with a smartphone. Until they do, smartphones are likely to remain relatively niche.

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