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Android Wear 2.0 Is An Evolutionary Update To Google's Smartwatch OS (techcrunch.com) 40

Google is officially launching Android Wear 2.0 today -- the biggest update to the company's wearable operating system since its launch in 2014. While Android Wear 2.0 will be launching with two new flagship watches from LG -- the LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style, a number of existing Wear watches will also get this update in the coming weeks and months. TechCrunch reports: The first thing you'll notice when you get a 2.0 watch is the overall update to its design -- both in terms of the overall look but also the user experience. The look of Wear 2.0 now skews closer to Google's Material Design guidelines. While the overall look will still feel familiar to Wear 1.0 users, the update put a stronger emphasis on cards, for example. This means every notification now gets a full screen to show its preview and you can use the watch's dial to scroll through them (assuming your watch has a dial, of course -- otherwise you can obviously still use the touch screen to scroll). The other marquee feature of Wear 2.0 is support for standalone apps that don't need a companion app to run on your phone. That means developers can write apps that are purely geared toward the watch and they can then publish it on the Google Play store, which is now also available directly on the watch. That sounds more useful than it is -- unless you plan on getting an LTE-enabled watch and leave your phone at home. That's an option now that you could run Hangout or Google Music directly on the watch, but, except for runners, that's likely not a typical use case. At the end of the day, the most important use case for a smartwatch remains dealing with notifications. Everything else often feels like an unnecessary complication. [In summary, Frederic Lardinois writes via TechCrunch:] The Android smartwatch market could use a revolution to kickstart what now occasionally feels like a moribund ecosystem. Wear 2.0 doesn't feel revolutionary. It is, however, a perfectly adequate update that addresses many of the issues with Android Wear. It also puts it on parity with its competitors, like Apple's watchOS or Samsung's Tizen. It does also introduce some new use cases for LTE-enabled watches, but I can't help but feel that this will remain a niche category. Much, however, will depend on Google's hardware partners who will now have to bring Wear 2.0 to life.
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Android Wear 2.0 Is An Evolutionary Update To Google's Smartwatch OS

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  • by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @08:41PM (#53830205)

    Queue the "But my Casio's battery lasts for years!" and the "Only 13 people in the history of the world have purchases a smart watch" comments ...

  • well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bhcompy ( 1877290 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @08:50PM (#53830251)

    At the end of the day, the most important use case for a smartwatch remains dealing with notifications.

    Well, in general, maybe, but I got mine for golf and many golfers I know use them. Distance and hole layout just with a look, tracking shots is very easy, etc. There are a number of very specific use cases that they're one of the best tools on the market for

  • I just want to make and take calls over the watch without having to pull my phone out. Just let me answer and talk over it. The other stuff maybe someone else wants but I can't think why.

    • So you want the watch to be just a speaker phone? Oh god no! I can just imagine the results during my commute hours.

      Get yourself a Bluetooth headset. You can still use your watch to answer the phone, but then please use your headset. We don't want to listen to both sides of your conversation at full volume.

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        No to the headset. I can't wear a headset all the time like I can a watch. I don't generally carry conversations more than 30 or 40 seconds so I just want the convenience of not having to hold a phone in my hands. I hear people yapping on the phone for hours on end everywhere I go so it's not like it's going to stand out.

        • I hear people yapping on the phone for hours on end everywhere I go so it's not like it's going to stand out.

          "I see people spitting on the sidewalk everywhere I go so it's not like it's going to stand out."

          Yeah, it still stands out. One of you isn't less annoying and wrongheaded just because you're all annoying and wrongheaded.

          Wear a headset, please. And speak quietly. Very quietly.

        • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

          No to the headset. I can't wear a headset all the time like I can a watch.

          I bought a headset torque a couple of years ago when I had to work by phone with a vendor much of the day, and my ear and arm were starting to ache. Much to my surprise, I fell in love with the thing. Haven't been without one since.

          The first obvious advantage is for taking calls. Ironically, modern cellphones are just not well-designed to actually use for phone calls. You're basically holding a big rectangular bottom-heavy slab of glass up to your ear. With the headset:

          • You can talk much more comfortably
    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      I just want to make and take calls over the watch without having to pull my phone out.

      Add a Bluetooth headset to you gear collection, and that's quite doable today. Not something I ever cared for, but I guess we all have our use-cases.

      For me, the "killer app" is being able to see if a call while I'm driving or in a meeting is something I have to pull over/leave the room and take, or something I can ignore. In a car pulling out a phone to check who's calling is potentially dangerous, and in a meeting its incredibly impolite.

    • I just want to make and take calls over the watch without having to pull my phone out.

      Wear 2.0 supports that, and the new LG Watch Sport has it (for only $350!!!). With Wear 2.0, the watch can operate completely independent from the phone.

  • by Camembert ( 2891457 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @09:55PM (#53830475)
    I am curious about the main pros and cons of a Wear 2 watch vs the current Apple Watch, next to the fact that they are tied to their own ecosystem of course. I have the first generation Apple Watch since a good year, and my wife has the new one. We like them. I am actually a big fan of traditional mechanical watches and yet I find that I wear the AW at least two days per week (I have 10 other mechanical watches in my rotation, hence relatively it is worn a lot). What I like most: the discreet tapping notifications and reminders, the dial with integrated activity plots, the ease of Apple pay, occasionally it is quicker to answer a call on the watch than on the phone. Also the dial designs while less plentiful than on android watches are restrained and in good taste (nothing is as offputting as a screen dial that is bright like a torch). I like to use Siri to control a few homekit devices (Siri switch on standing lamp) through it. The daily charging is less an issue than I expected. The build quality and feel is quite premium, my stainless one feels more posh than most watches in the mall at similar price levels.
    At first glance, Android Wear 2 seems comparable in functionality with the difference of having round dials in the case of LG. I must say that round dials look better to me for time display. Not so sure yet for general information display, rectangular seems better for that.
    Any comments on the relative merits of Android Wear 2? What does it do that the Apple Watch doesn't and vice versa?
    Regardless, I think that the true breakthrough of this category of devices will come when eventually more health related sensors will be added. It is well known that Apple hired people with PHDs on non-invasive sensors for blood glucose, blood oxygen etc; I can imagine Google having done the same.
    • If the app is well designed a round display is not bad. For reading concise information like a health/sport sensor/tracker, a message, an email is good. If you wanted to read a novel or do graphical design it would be horrible.
    • by Jaegs ( 645749 )

      "next to the fact that they are tied to their own ecosystem of course"

      That's not entirely true. Initially it was the case, but I can own an Android Wear watch and use an iOS device to drive it:

      https://itunes.apple.com/us/ap... [apple.com]

      I do not believe the opposite is true.

      I actually have both--a first-gen Apple Watch and an LG Watch Urbane--and prefer the Apple Watch, but I am firmly in the Apple ecosystem, so it works better with that. I do like the "look" of the Urbane, though, as it feels more like a traditiona

    • I am curious about the main pros and cons of a Wear 2 watch vs the current Apple Watch

      I have a gen 1.5-ish Wear watch and my spouse has an Apple Watch 2. You get more variety and options with Wear, but in general you get a less polished product than Apple. That pretty much sums it up. Wear is a little ahead in what features it supports but they are IMHO pushing the limits of the hardware too far. For example, Wear 2.0 supports LTE modems, but the battery life is only ~12 hours on the newest watch that supports it.

      A watch needs to last a solid, long day. It's hard for me to fathom that they r

      • That is a good point. LTE support would be good for independence - but only if the battery can last long enough. I can imagine Apple adding that eventually, if and when they can do so in a still svelte case with enough battery life.
        • I read that Apple was actually prototyping LTE support, but dropped it for Watch 2 because they couldn't provide a decent experience w/ the available hardware.

  • The Ars coverage of this was much more thorough. Android Wear 2.0 is nice, but Google Fit saw the most improvements. Of the two watches launching with Android Wear 2.0, the more expensive LG Sport is all about the additional sensors and activity tracking... not Notification Cards.
  • AppleWatch OS 3.0 added a number of features to help ensure key applications could receive background data updates that made third party apps that involved data display (as opposed to our action apps like Uber) perform much better and therefore made them more useful. Did Android Wear 2.0 do anything to help in that regard?

    A lot of what makes the AppleWatch really useful is, as with iOS, the applications I can install and use later...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'd like something comparable to pebble... Always on screen, week long battery life, button (tactile) navigation.

    Tiny touchscreens are pretty useless - and impossible in winter with gloves (even if they are touch-enabled)

    • Unfortunately, there is nothing in the market that can compare to Pebble, now or in the future. As long as these watch designers insist that smartwatches must look and act like little phones instead of watches, we'll never get good battery life or always on screens on them.

  • I was kind of jazzed about the LG Urbane and its stand-alone LTE capabilities, but it never really materialized. I would much rather ditch my monolith phone in favor of a watch. Add connectivity to automotive head units (Android Auto) and better and better speech recognition and the number of applications requiring a slab phone is reduced. If I could get two days of life from a watch while having it paired (even just BT) with my tablet, it would be suffice ~98% of the time for all my needs. Let me usb teth

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