Smartwatches are finally taking off. For a while now, Pebble has been leading the pack in popularity since their initial Kickstarter campaign back in 2012. Now though, more and more companies are releasing smart watches and it looks like Google’s Android Wear is starting to make an impact.
Tomorrow, we’re halfway expecting an announcement from Apple about their smartwatch which many technology pundits seem to believe will be called the “iWatch”. With that in mind Google took to the official Google blog on Friday to announce some major changes to the AndroidWear operating system.
First, Google is bringing offline music playback back to AndroidWear powered smart watches. Now AndroidWear smartwatch owners will be able to enjoy music saved directly to their watch via Bluetooth headphones rather than being dependent on the smartphone.
Google also announced stand alone GPS support for Android smart watches that have a GPS sensor installed. “You’ll be able to listen to music stored on your watch via Bluetooth headphones. And if your watch includes a GPS sensor, you can track your distance and speed too. ” Google said.
Google has also announced downloadable watch faces, a feature that Pebble has had since the beginning. Android developers will be able to create watch faces for AndroidWear powered smartwatches and watch owner will be able to download those watch faces from the Google Play store. Popular watch faces include ones that allow users to see calendars or fitness sensors. The Pebble developer community has created watch faces for just about every hobby or interest.
Google also took to their Friday blog post to support some of their AndroidWear manufacturing partners. Absent in that part of the post was Samsung who have moved to Tizen for their smartwatch OS.
The company highlighted:
- The Moto 360, the first Android wearable with a round display, is now available for sale in the U.S.
- The Asus Zen Watch, coming later this year, includes a bio sensor, so you can keep tabs on your fitness and relaxation levels throughout the day.
- The LG G Watch R uses a circular display, includes a heart rate monitor, and will be available later this year.
- Last, but not least, we’re happy to welcome Sony to the Android Wear family with the Sony SmartWatch 3. It uses a transflective display for easier readability in sunlight, includes a GPS sensor, and will be available later this year.
You can read the entire blog post here.