As a platform, Android Wear is in its infancy. Even Google itself is still figuring out some of the applications and limits of Android in a wrist watch form factor. But that's not stopping them from adding in a bunch of goodies, even at this early stage. Google's Director of Engineering for Android Wear David Singleton spoke with Cnet on the subject, and let loose a few snippets that should excite Wear fans.


First and foremost: Android Wear will be updated with the capability to pair with Bluetooth headphones. This functionality will be added specifically to allow for local music playback, which would let users store and play music without having their phone or tablet nearby. It has to be said that this isn't exactly new - some Samsung Gear watches are already capable of local music storage and Bluetooth headphone pairing.

One of the things we're going to be able to do is add the ability for these devices to start working with some of the other devices you might wear on your body. So we'll have an update coming that allows you to pair a Bluetooth headset with your watch. And that means you can play music stored on your watch directly on your Bluetooth headset.

Another planned update will have less immediate applications: hardware support for GPS. None of the current Android Wear devices, including the upcoming LG G Watch R and Moto 360, include GPS modules. But future models should be able to perform basic positional functions like tracking a run or bike ride, or storing maps and directions, all on their own.

Alongside that, we're introducing GPS support for the platform. So that's obviously only for devices that have the GPS hardware. But we're excited about those two features together because it unlocks a whole set of new use cases.

According to Vice President of Engineer for Android Hiroshi Lockheimer, updates for the Wear platform will continue at a fast pace, thanks to the relative ease of a semi-standard software base and the fact that Google doesn't have to deal with carriers to send out the updates. Singleton said that there would be "several [updates] before the end of the year," including one later this week for improved navigation. Neither Google representative went into detail on when GPS and Bluetooth features would be added.

Singleton also made brief mention of other ways to connect Wear to outside services, in response to an inquiry about the Samsung Gear S, a Tizen-based watch with its own wireless network connection.

I think we definitely see lots of innovation continuing in the space... We'll see other mechanisms for connecting, other than Bluetooth, and we'll start to enable those as we see partners wanting to build devices using them.

Expect new Android Wear announcements from LG and ASUS at the IFA trade show in Berlin later this week. Other companies may join in as well.

Source: Cnet

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • kgptzac

    I think the industry should work on finding a magic power source to keep these watches powered up. I don't want to charge my watch daily; already doing that with my phone and tablet.

    • nxtiak

      Add both solar cell and kinetic charging in it, should be able to keep it powered up and charged.

    • Wall Breaker

      Unless your wearing your watch to bed (which is dumb in the first place) I don't see the issue?

      • akellar

        Using your watch as an alarm is far from "dumb"

        • c

          Ha ha....looks like Wall Breaker does everything with his smart watch except use it to tell time.

      • Ian Aitken

        Also sleep tracking, Sleep as a droid is getting better in this regard.
        Still need to take the watch off in the morning to charger it while i get ready but i'm currently fine with that.

    • https://google.com/+LateefAlabiOki Lateef Alabi-Oki

      I've never understood this. You already charge certain devices daily. So what difference does it make that you charge your smartwatch daily? Are those 20 seconds you could do without charging your watch a life saver?

      • Chris Sanner

        well...if you DO have to charge your smartwatch daily you lose the ability to use it as a sleep tracker.
        Granted this isn't a thing currently advertised as a smartwatch function but the fact that that's the case has me hesitant to pick one up as it's a feature I like of my fitness tracker - which this would have to replace.

      • kgptzac

        Not sure what's hard to understand. Smartwatches are supposed to make life more convenient, but having to charge daily is more like trading one convenience to another. Do you have enough wall plugs? If not then you need to buy a power strip. Also it means one more adapter/proprietary cable to bring when you spend the night away from home.

        Also, consider the amount of time I interact with my phone and tablet, and the functionality they provide, I have no problem of charging them daily. I just don't see how these watches worth to be treated the same. Especially I own a Pebble and I am very happy with its features, and I only need to charge it once a week.

        • Ian Aitken

          Ok a current smartwatch isn't for you. That's OK but,
          My android wear does make my life a lot more convenient, I already had a power strip for my computer, phone and tablet and i interact as much or more with it then my phone on a daily basis. So by your standards it worthy to charge it daily. You might too if you tried one for a day or so.
          FYI - I don't need to charge it daily if i'm not doing sleep tracking, I'm doing it daily because I'm in they easy habit (LG G watch charge is real easy to use)

  • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

    This adds some further fire to an argument that only just sparked in my mind recently:

    I bought an LG G Watch to stave off my excitement until the Moto 360 arrives. And now with the LG G Watch R almost here, too, and both looking pretty intriguing, I'm not sure which to buy. But more than that, I'm wondering if I actually SHOULD buy either right now. My G Watch, while not as pretty and awesome as those two, is still pretty darn solid. It does the job. Maybe I should just wait and see where the platform goes, and what other devices hit, before rushing to the newest thing. With this new hardware GPS support and other possible additions around the corner, and second and third-generation options coming up, and players entering the market that we haven't seen yet... maybe now isn't the time to be hasty. The G Watch might just hold me over longer than planned.

    • Simon Belmont

      The thing you stated about waiting for second or third generation Wear devices is the very reason I avoided buying a G Watch or Gear when they launched. I'm waiting for the platform to mature and the hardware to really get some legs under it before taking the plunge.

      Android Wear is very intriguing to me, but I don't mind biding my time a little to watch things progress at its steady rate until the correct formula of hardware and software is there. That said, if one of those Asus Wear devices ends up being only $99 (it was rumored), I may grab that because that's impulse buy territory (and then I'll upgrade to a more substantial Wear device when the hardware hits the second or third generation).

      • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

        I knew what I was getting into. I wanted in on the ground floor, so I went for it. And I don't regret it. As much room as Android Wear has to grow, and it has plenty, it's pretty impressive right now and does for me what I wanted it to do.

        But yeah, I'm thinking upgrading from one first-gen device to another first-gen device may not be worth the geek cred I wanted. I'm not bothered by the look of the G Watch THAT much, so I might as well hold out and wait until an attractive option that's also a notable upgrade in other regards appears. Although battery life on the 360 was definitely one of those other regards.

        • Simon Belmont

          Whoa. Whoa. I hope you don't think I was criticizing your choice. There's always something to be said for the early adopters, and everything has to start somewhere.

          I just tend to wait things out a little before I pounce. It's all a matter of preference. In fact, I'm pretty sure we discussed this in the comments before you made your purchase some months ago. At least I believe we did.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            I realized after I wrote that that it could have been taken as defensive. No worries. I totally get what you're saying.

    • Anfronie

      Meh...Half the fun is the ride ;)

  • http://hugehog.blogspot.com/ Herman

    Call me crazy, but what I want to see on a smartwatch is a camera.

    So far only Samsung has implemented a camera into a smartwatch (note: I'm no Samsung fan, at all - also explains why I don't own one of those yet).

    For those times that you want to take a crappy picture in the heat of the moment, when taking your phone out of your pockets takes too long. For those times that you're cycling (I'm Dutch, cycling is my life) and you want to take a picture but you don't want to, or cannot even, grab your phone. A camera doesn't have to be super high resolution, but one is certainly much better than none. And I know I will hate myself if I buy a current gen Android Wear device when one with a camera is just around the corner.

    • WORPspeed

      You are CRAZY!! There, you asked for it, I delivered, now where's my cookie!

      That being said:

      Als een mede Nederlander moet ik zeggen dat ik niet fiets, desondanks zie ik het nut niet in van een camera op je horloge. Je hand positioneren, je watch unlocken, navigeren naar de foto applicatie om dat handjevol momenten die snel voorbij gaan vast te leggen in crappy kwaliteit? Nee dank je.

    • Đức Thành

      Don't know if you'll hate yourself but I'm already hating you for wanting a smart watch with a camera.

  • MJ

    Why watches need cameras and GPS is beyond me. I much prefer they stay linked to one's phone.

    • osiris355

      Why would I want to carry around my phone when I dont have to? Especially if I am out for a run

      • c

        Your watch can receive calls and send texts/emails without a phone?

    • Gtoknu

      Imagine you want to go for a run and keep track of your stats (distance ran, which paths did you take, etc) but do not want to carry your phone around. Then you use your watch GPS. So later you can let the phone process the data and register it for you.

      • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

        I can't fathom going anywhere without my phone. The idea is really incomprehensible to me.

        • X-47B

          Try harder.. :P

        • Imparus

          If you run, where do you put your phone then?

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            I don't. But if I did, I imagine I'd buy an armband like I see most runners wearing.

          • Imparus

            Pretty much everyone of those sucks, I have yet to try/use a good one, just using a watch would be quite the upgrade.

          • Andrew

            I slap that big Son'Bitch to my arm. Note II, don't care that it doesn't really fit inside the armband entirely. Works good enough and hasn't fallen out yet!

            Having said that, I can't wait for one of these watches with GPS. You'd be surprised how long a watch with GPS could last. I had a TomTom Nike+ GPS Watch that easily got a week. The key is to only use GPS when you need it, not on all the time like the phone... I have a phone for that. BTW, I loved the USB port in the wristband from that watch. I thought it was a pretty neat way to incorporate a charging port (and a way to connect to the software on a computer that was required to sync to Nike+).

  • skeeterfood

    Making Android Wear a Garmin Forerunner competitor would be awesome. If it can sync with my BLE heart rate strap, play some music to bluetooth headphones, and track my route via GPS, I may finally have a reason to want one.

  • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

    Will the battery take the GPS hit lightly? I honestly think people have got to figure out how to improve battery life or it could become a (worse) problem...

  • JustWorld B

    In other words, don't buy these wearables now. Wait a year or two until they get all the pieces together and their battery life is at least a month or two.

  • NF

    I personally would like standard headphone support, not just for Bluetooth. It'd be easier to have something on my wrist while running than something in my pocket. I'm not sure if I want a premium accessory for my premium accessory.

    But it's good to see the team innovating quickly. Can developers keep up? Hardware fragmentation may become a problem just like in the past unless Google is clever (getting GPS from device instead of watch for older devices)

    The biggest news of this is that watches won't just be tied to a phone, but Google wants wearables to be primary devices if necessary. I imagine Wi-Fi support will come when Wi-Fi direct does.

    • http://symbii.com op12

      I don't think there's any chance you'd see wired headphone support if that's what you mean. There's too much space limitation, it would greatly reduce water resistance, and it would either restrict arm movement when running or you'd have a long cord dangling from your wrist to your ears. Plus decent bluetooth headphones can be found for $30-40, which is a relatively small cost compared to these watches.

    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      Just use an iPod nano

  • Jeter

    New technology, I would hold back for now, don't rush in ...

  • Steve Freeman

    Is it just my imagination, or does it seem like Google is trying to make Android Wear functionality more and more into a full Android replacement? Minus the actual 3G/LTE/4G radios themselves, mind you. At least for now...

  • nikolas

    Unfortunately i can`t hold back to a moto360. The fact that i will probably have to charge it every 2 days makes it sad but hey. i said i can`t hold back.

  • imaguest

    Android wear needs support for speaker. Vibrating is good but what about sound notifications or alarms... Right now if I set an alarm on my watch at night is useless because it is charging and I can't feel it or listen to it. Also I would like to be able to make phone calls through the watch... I know that would look stupid in public but at home let's say while cooking it is pretty damn useful so there is that. I ask for these features because I have been using my g watch since launch and these features I found could make the watch like 50% more useful.

  • Richard Markert

    i do not understand the fascination with cramming as much junk functionality into a smartwatch as possible.