Some Android Wear 2.0 updates now available through Play Store

Although Google may have dropped Android Wear devices from the Google Store, they are still making an effort to provide some support for the platform. The latest continues on the path of making things more modular as opposed to having everything tied in to the operating system, a strategy that Google has been pursuing with […]

Come comment on this article: Some Android Wear 2.0 updates now available through Play Store

Google able to release new Android Wear features through the Play Store

Heads up, Android Wear fans, because you recently received some new features and will be getting more through the Play Store.

Google employee Hoi Lam recently revealed that Android Wear 2.0 watches can get new features through the Play Store. This can happen when the Android Wear app on your watch is updated.

An update was released this way last week, bringing with it new features like:

  • 3rd party chat app support in Contacts
  • Reduce accidental entry into the watch face picker
  • Improve Play Store discoverability for new users
  • Other features and bug fixes

We regularly see companies push apps to the Play Store to offer more frequent updates as opposed to waiting for a large OTA release, and that seems to be the strategy that Google is taking here. It’s exciting news for folks wearing an Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch, and it ought to make seeing the Android Wear app in your update list even more exciting.

Verizon Wear24 smartwatch pulled from sale after just 4 months

The Verizon Wear24 was one of the first smartwatches released that had Google’s Android Wear 2.0 OS installed and ready to use out of the box. Verizon first announced the watch in February, and in May it went on sale for the no-contract price of $349.99. Today, Verizon has confirmed that it has quietly, and abruptly, ended sales of the Wear24, only four months after it launched.

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The move was first reported by Droid-Life, and later confirmed by the carrier itself. Verizon didn’t offer a reason for pulling the Wear24 from its device lineup, but it’s more than likely that poor sales was the main reason. In our own hands-on impressions of the Wear24, we noted that the smartwatch had some good features, including LTE connectivity so it could be used on its own without linking to a phone, along with an IP67 rating for water resistance and a sharp AMOLED display.

However, we also noted some flaws, including the lack of a heart sensor, and the fact that the bands could not be switched out, because the Wear24’s LTE antennas were built into its included band. Many online reviews of the watch also complained about the low speaker volume, which obviously is a problem if you were planning to use the device as a replacement for your smartphone.

In the end, the Verizon Wear24 ended up being a smartwatch that was likely priced too high for what it offered. The news of its discontinuation comes just a few days after the Apple Watch Series 3 went on sale, which is the first model of Apple’s own smartwatch that includes LTE support.

Google Has Updated Their Policy to Promote Standalone Android Wear Apps

With Android Wear 2.0, applications can run standalone on the device and can be installed through the Google Play Store. Past initial setup, a phone is technically no longer needed to use the smartwatch. From Android Wear 1.0 to 1.5, applications were distributed from the phone to the watch, as the watch could not install apps independently. As such, Android Wear applications had to be downloaded on the phone, which contained the Wear APK sent over Bluetooth to the watch.

However, things are now changing. Google is updating their policies, set to go live on the 18th of January 2018, to deny the “Enhanced for Android Wear” badge to any application that packs the Wear APK inside of the phone application, instead of making use of the multi-APK feature of the Google Play developer console. They also will no longer be eligible to be shown in any top charts. Google also announced that this feature will work with Android Wear 1.0+, so developers have no excuse not to implement this change.

The main reason for this development would seem to be iOS users. The curated list of applications for Android smartwatches chosen by Google staff must only contain apps that will work on an Android Wear smartwatch regardless if it is connected to an iOS device or an Android device.

Google also recommend apps which synchronize data to the device (such as fitness apps) have device synchronization as an optional extra, rather than a requirement. This may be Google hinting at further policy changes. That, or they just want the Android Wear platform to be an entirely independent platform from Android alone, able to stand by itself and bring a full smart suite directly to your wrist without relying on the battery life or connectivity of any of your other devices to function correctly.

Source: Android Developers Blog