In Depth

Google to launch Android Wear 2.0 'in coming weeks'

Two new smartwatches released running software ahead of its universal roll-out to older devices

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Google has unveiled its highly anticipated Android Wear 2.0 software, ushering in the next generation of smartwatches. 

The largest update to appear on Android devices sees the smartwatch debut of Google Assistant, a voice-activated command system that allows wearers to make reservations at a restaurant or plan their journey to work without touching the watch. 

Fitness-tracking features heavily, with users able to track their pace, distance and calories burned when walking, cycling or running. Android smartwatches with the appropriate hardware will also be able to monitor heart rates. 

In addition, users will also be able to pin widgets to the always-on watch face, allowing them to monitor their fitness, check their calendar and even order an Uber ride without opening the device.

Google Assistant also lets users quickly respond to messages, simply tapping on the notification and replying by either speaking, typing or writing with a finger. The feature is currently supported by the likes of Facebook Messenger, Google Messenger and WhatsApp. 

Google says the new software will roll out to compatible devices around the world "in the coming weeks". 

The search engine giant has also partnered with LG to launch two smartwatches that natively run Android Wear 2.0. 

The entry-level watch, called the Watch Style, features an interchangeable 0.7ins (18mm) wrist strap and is available in either rose gold, silver or titanium. 

Above that is the Watch Sport, which can be specced in either titanium or dark blue, with GPS tracking fitted as standard and dedicated buttons for Google Fit and Android Pay. 

Trusted Reviews reports the Watch Style will retail at $249 (£199), while the range-topping Sport model enters at $349 (£279). The smartwatches launch in the US today and across the globe in the coming weeks.

Android Wear 2.0: Smartwatch to get improved Apple support

26 January

Android Wear 2.0 is just around the corner – and will be able to take apps that are compatible with Apple's iOS mobile system.

Google's next generation smartwatch operating system will feature "revamped" notification support for iOS devices and automatically track user activity, says Forbes.

This means apps such as Endomondo will switch on "without any screen touching at all" whenever the wearer is working out. 

While current Google smartwatches can be paired with Apple iPhones, the overall user experience is significantly limited compared to those with Android-powered smartphones. 

For example, Tech Radar reports that iPhone users can receive notifications, but cannot always "interact with them". 

As well as the iOS compatibility, one of the most significant updates in Android Wear 2.0 is the inclusion of standalone apps, says Pocket-Lint, so users will not need their phone nearby to use their smartwatch. 

It's not a feature that is fully supported by the Apple Watch, which offers a limited experience when the user's phone is not paired, although it can display the time and store music if the device has been synced with a computer. 

Android Wear 2.0 is expected to launch next month and will roll out on a number of existing Google-powered smartwatches. 

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