Google releases Android Wear update, introduces new features for wearable platform

android wear logo

Google has announced an update to the Android Wear platform, which is made specifically for wearable devices, and appears on a variety of smartwatches already on sale. The company detailed the new features during the keynote presentation at this year’s Google I/O developer conference.

While not a major update, version 5.1.1 does bring several changes. These are:

  • Always-on screen. While Android Wear always displayed the time permanently, the feature has now been extended to apps, enabling developers to keep important information on screen at all times. Citymapper is one of the first to implement this feature, and Google has integrated it with Google Maps.
  • Wi-Fi support. Android Wear watches with Wi-Fi connectivity can now connect to a Wi-Fi network and continue to deliver notifications, even when your smartphone is out of range. Handy for wandering around an office, with your phone left on the desk.

Android Wear 5.1.1 brings new features, including always-on apps, and emoji recognition

Android Wear

  • Gesture controls. Flicking your wrist up or down will scroll through open notifications.
  • New menus. Android Wear has a new app menu screen, where apps can be opened directly, plus there is a contacts list to message or call friends from your watch.
  • Emoji recognition. Emoji’s can be scribbled on screen, ready for Android Wear to convert them and send them to friends.

Android Wear version 5.1.1 is already installed on the brand new LG Watch Urbane, and has started its journey to other smartwatches as an update this month.