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Is your Android smartwatch collecting dust? Maybe you gave up on your Google-powered timepiece earlier this year and ordered an Apple Watch instead. If you think your digital wristwatch has hit a dead end, think again.

A new Android Wear update is on the way to breathe life back onto your wrist. Find out what new features to expect and when the updates are coming your way below.

1. Wi-Fi Support

Most Android smartwatches actually come with built-in Wi-Fi. The feature was just dormant, patiently waiting to be activated. Now that time has finally come!

With Wi-Fi support, users can receive notifications, perform real-time searches and use apps without help from a smartphone Bluetooth connection.

The announcement from Google’s official blog elaborates more on the highly anticipated feature:

“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.”

The impressive takeaway from this update is that your phone and smartwatch does not need to be on the same Wi-Fi network to stay connected, thanks to Google cloud services. Essentially, this allows users to leave their mobile device in the car while doing short errands, or go for a lunch break without bringing every gadget from the office.

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2. Advanced Emoji Activation

Smartwatches are designed for fast-paced lifestyles. So when a message comes in, the last thing you want to do is attempt to write a long reply on a tiny screen. The latest Android Wear update addresses this through emoji activation. Individuals can send savvy icons by drawing a symbol on the screen.

Advanced emojis originated from a hackathon event that was eventually refined and adopted as a live feature. “We had volunteer Googlers send us hundreds of thousands of drawing samples,” says Jeff Chang, the lead product manager for Android Wear. “We’d say ‘hey, draw a dog, draw it on the screen.’”

Using this feature only gets better over time. Eventually, a small menu of recently used emojis will auto-populate, as well as a shortlisted version of popular emojis.

3. Low-power Mode and New Gestures

Smartwatch apps display a ton of information such as to-do lists, fitness tracking data and text messages. Sometimes you want the screen to stay on while working with the information on your wrist. With low-power mode, apps can stay visible for a longer period of time, displaying just enough data to help reduce unnecessary movements.

For those who are tired of swiping or tapping their wrist to view smartwatch updates, enhanced wrist-flicking gestures are on the way. Moving one’s wrist upwards will cause a new card to appear, while the opposite, downward movement goes back to the previous card- simple functionality with a lot of potential. 

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When Will I Receive the Upgrade?

The new Android Wear update will rollout in the next few weeks to seven smartwatches (LG Watch Urbane users will receive the update first):

  • Moto 360
  • LG G Watch
  • Asus ZenWatch
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • SmartWatch 3
  • LG G Watch R
  • LG Watch Urbane

 

 

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