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Lollipop's Android Wear update shown off in leaked screenshots
In the past few weeks Google has done a decent job at updating it’s wearable OS, Android Wear. Something still doesn’t seem quite finished, though. Maybe it’s the fact that users can basically only use stock watch faces without downloading an app from the Play Store. Or maybe it’s because there’s only one way to adjust the brightness, and it takes 3+ steps. Whatever the case may be, Wear could use a bit of work, and it looks like we may be seeing some improvements pretty soon.
Thanks to some leaked screenshots from Phandroid, we get an early look at Android Wear’s Lollipop upgrade. The update may be hitting devices as early as December, though nothing is final or official.
First and foremost, the Android Wear companion app should be seeing an update with a few enhancements. Most importantly, you’ll now be able to see battery statistics and storage information for your watch, directly from the Wear app. These pages are set up very similarly to the Settings menu you see on your Android device. This is a welcome change, especially with the new ability to store music files directly on your watch. Also, you can now change your watch face directly from the Wear app. Good going, Google! Now, let’s take a look at some of the new features!
Next up, we have some good news for you customization fanatics… Google’s watch face API is finally being released! Watch faces will have more customization options through a Settings menu on the watch. The watch faces will now also have the ability to display weather information directly on the face, eliminating the need for (sometimes bothersome) weather cards. Above are some of the new watch faces included in the Lollipop update, as well as some revamped weather icons.
Moving on, Google is introducing two new brightness modes to Wear. A consistent problem with Android Wear is that, on watches without an ambient light sensor, the watch can’t tell whether you’re inside, outside, or in a dark room. If you need to change the brightness level in a pinch, you’re left to scroll all the way down to the Settings menu, then select the brightness level you prefer. With the quick-access to Theater and Sunlight Mode, now you can adjust brightness much more easily. Once you swipe down from the top, where you usually see the battery percentage, you’ll be able to swipe left or right to switch modes.
Have you ever swiped away a card when you didn’t mean to? (It’s definitely a bad feeling, if you haven’t done it). If you didn’t mean to swipe a notification away, you can now quickly swipe up from the bottom and select the “undo” option. This will save a lot of people from headaches in the near future.
Google is adding some nice accessibility features to the Settings menu as well. You can now use the familiar large text, color inversion, and magnification gestures if need be. All of these can be accessed through the Settings menu.
You’re familiar with that super long action menu, right? You know, the one you’re forced to use when you don’t want to voice search for everything? It turns out, it’s going to get smarter with the new update. If you frequent the Settings menu, for instance, the Settings option will float towards the top of the menu so you don’t have to scroll all the way down to the bottom anymore. Personally, I rarely use voice search on my watch, so this is going to come in handy.
We’re sure these are welcome changes to most Android Wear users, as Google is clearly working hard to make Wear a better experience. We’ll be sure to keep you updated when we know a release date for the new update. Are you excited for the new update? If not mentioned above, do you have any other important features you think Google should include? We’d love to hear from you!