From the horse’s mouth
A new version of the Google Android Wear wearables pllatform is being rolled out in the coming weeks which will acquire some major functionality improvements. There is talk of having this version rolled out in the coming weeks for most Android Wear devices and an increased likelihood of it appearing in newer watches.
One will be the ability to support an always-on screen with always-on apps like a traditional watch. Here, the apps can show a high-contrast power-efficient display rather than going blank when the the smartwatch isn’t being interacted with so you are able to glance at them for data.
This also ties in with different ways to gain access to other information on your Android Wear smartwatch. Firstly, you can flick your wrist to switch between cards on the display rather than brushing the watch’s face to change app cards. Similarly you can touch the screen in certain ways to show the apps you have or your contacts on your smartwatch.
As we become more addicted to using emoticons and emoji, we can hand-draw the emoticons on the watch face to show up the ones we want in our messages.
But, as far as connectivity is concerned, the new version of Android Wear has support for Wi-FI wireless networking. This is implemented in a way where you don’t even need to have your phone or smartwatch on the same logical network as each other and you can even gain access to your somartphone from your watch even if it is on a mobile-broadband connection. This could encourage smartwatch manufacturers and silicon designers to design Wi-Fi chipsets that consume very little battery power in order to obtain this functionality.
The question I have about this feature is how it will cope with public-access wireless hotspots especially where most will implement the Web-based authentication and provisioning process. Personally, I would like to see “out-of-box” support for Wi-Fi Passpoint technology with this new version of Android Wear to facilitate seamless authentication on suitable networks.
Personally, I see the new version of Android Wear as a sign that Google is putting faith in the idea of integrating Wi-Fi in to smartwatches and other wearables along with simplifying the operation of these devices.