An announcement on the Google Official Blog has signaled the arrival of an update to Google’s Android Wear smartwatch platform, which addresses some notable shortcomings of the series, particularly Wi-Fi support. “Now Android Wear supports watches with built-in Wi-Fi,” states the blog. “As long as your watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network, and your phone has a data connection (wherever it is), you’ll be able to get notifications, send messages, and use all your favorite apps.” Other improvements in the update include always-on screen apps, gesture control (wrist flicks to scroll through alerts), and emojis.
The Wi-Fi update means that for some applications at least, Android Wear watches will now be untethered from their smartphones, and no longer dependent on Bluetooth connection to a mobile device. The new Google Handwriting Input keyboard will also apparently be implemented in Android Wear, allowing for better text entry into the devices. This should all help stave off the perceived challenge from the Apple Watch, which has been apparently making a fair fist of playing catch-up to Android Wear, despite its late entry into the game.
One less welcome point, though, is that the first-generation Android LG G Watch, alone of all the Android Wear watches so far released, reportedly doesn’t have Wi-Fi support. So those who wanted to use this as a first-time try-out for the platform will be disappointed – or doomed to upgrade. Everybody else, enjoy.