Android wear software update February 20 2016, 0 Comments

Smartwatches had long become secondary devices for performing a few basic tasks like health monitoring. One still needed to have their phone with them at all times in order to make calls or texts through other apps. This might not be so for much longer; Google is aiming at making the smartwatch a semi-independent device with its own cellular connectivity and complete functionality.

This will be possible starting with the latest software update to smartwatches that upgrades the smartwatch software to version 1.4, equivalent to Android Marshmallow.

What’s new in the software update

  • Cellular support: most smartwatches in the market at the moment do not have the capacity to hold a SIM card. The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Generation, however, holds a nano-SIM and the ability to receive LTE connectivity. The device can, therefore, be used to communicate through various supported apps such as Skype and WhatsApp. Besides SIM capabilities, smartwatches can now connect to Wi-Fi networks and communicate independently even in the absence of a smartphone.
  • Microphone support: you will also be able to use a smartwatch to make and receive calls, this is nothing new and can already be done on the Apple Watch. However, it was previously impossible to do so on Android Wear, until now. Provided your smartwatch has got a speaker, you will be able to make calls through your smartwatch directly. This feature will extend further into third-party messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Viber which allows you to dictate and send messages even without a paired smartphone.
  • More gestures: there have always been a few gestures available to smartwatches that made operation much easier. This new firmware update brings even more gestures that will, in theory, allow Android Wear devices to be used single-handedly.
  • Performance features: Android Marshmallow on smartphones enabled devices to be more power-efficient through the use of the Doze feature. This feature determines whether the device is actively in use and hibernates system processes. It’s now coming to Android Wear, and would be a great help given smartwatches don’t have the most remarkable battery life.

Before you get ahead of yourself…

Someone may be thinking about getting a smartwatch and forgetting about a smartphone, don’t. Despite all these new features and increased independence for the smartwatch, it cannot be set up independently, instead requiring a smartphone to pair with.

It’s still very nice, though, that you can go for a run comfortably without your smartphone and never miss a call while doing so. I have a feeling there’s much more to come to the benefit of the smartwatch.