In its previous update, Pocket Casts added an Android Wear companion app that allowed you to browse your Up Next list of podcasts and pick an episode to play. It worked even when Pocket Casts wasn't launched on your phone and without requiring the notification first, which was awesome if you needed to start playback from your watch without having to dig your phone out of your pocket/purse. The whole idea though relied on you having already populated your playback queue because you couldn't browse your entire library from the watch.
And now, we interrupt our Google I/O coverage to bring you this health bulletin.
Runtastic is one of the few apps that are commendable for quickly - really quickly - adapting to any new Android releases, options, or APIs. Today, the app is keeping its track record of jumping head-first into new features by adding an always-on mode for Android Wear watches.
You don't need to do anything for the function to work - that is if your Wear watch is already on Android 5.1.1, which enables always-on mode for apps. When you start a new Runtastic activity, the card will show up on your watch.
Here's the problem with Android Wear. Although my G Watch R is always with me, notifying me and taking my commands, controlling it with anything but voice seems a tad cumbersome. You can realistically hold and interact with a phone using one hand, but you can't with a watch. You need both hands, which, if you ask me, feels like a step backwards sometimes. If my right hand is in my pocket, or holding something, steering, mixing a batch of cake filling, typing, grocery shopping, brushing my teeth, climbing a mountain, squeezing a lemon, or otherwise occupied, I have to interrupt whatever it is doing and bring it together with my left wrist to take care of a new notification on my watch.
If you've been looking to score a high-end Android Wear device on the cheap, head over to Woot's landing page. The main daily deal for today (Thursday) is the Moto 360, refurbished and sporting either black or gray leather strap, for just $129.99. That's a full $120 off of the original retail price, and $35 off of the price that was dropped last month.
Smartwatches are easily the hottest new form factor in tech in the last year or so, and considering we're already on generation two (OK, maybe more like 1.5) of Android Wear hardware, you'd think smartwatches were pretty much a sure thing. Everybody's going to wear one, there's going to be a gigantic 3rd party app ecosystem, and it's going to be just like the smartphone boom years! Smartwatches will be indispensible to our daily lives.
Except, well, there are lots of good reasons to not believe that. Smartwatches have so far presented a pretty lame value proposition - doing little more than the smartphones they're connected to, while costing nearly as much (or a lot more).
Does the lack of $1000+ status symbols available for the Android Wear market really get you down? If it does, then start saving your pennies now. According to Bloomberg, TAG Heuer and its owner LVMH intend to release a luxury smartwatch in either October or November of this year, with a price tag expected to be around $1400. That's much, much more expensive than even the priciest Android Wear devices to date, about entry-level for a TAG watch, and approximately one tenth the price of the most expensive Apple Watch.
The nice thing about a United States design patent, as opposed to a more common utility patent, is that it doesn't actually have to work. Hell, it doesn't even have to make sense - it just has to be a mostly-new idea that's concrete enough to put into a technical doodle. So it is with Design Patent D726,140, awarded to LG by the US Patent and Trademark Office last week. If you could turn one of those slap-bracelets from the 90s into a phone-watch hybrid, it would look a lot like this.
"FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a mobile phone showing our new design in which the display part has been bent and wound around the band"
The design patent covers a fairly standard (if impossibly thin) slate smartphone that curves backwards on the top and bottom.
Apple has a big event scheduled to kick off whenever the hour, with folks looking forward to learning more about upcoming MacBooks and the Apple Watch. The latter will be a first-generation device, Apple's long-awaited debut into the wearables market.
But forget about that product for a moment and remember that, whatever the headlines, Apple's watch will hardly be the only decent smartwatch in town. Google has just released a short commercial showing consumers that Android Wear is a thing and that its watches are cool.
The 17-second commercial features plenty of young people wearing various circular and square watches all sporting different faces.
Watch the video below. Watch it several times if you need to. Try to figure out what it's trying to promote. A remote and exclusive European ski resort? An auction house for classic Mercedes cars? Champagne intended only for use in questionably phallic gestures? Nope, it's Huawei's Watch. That's not a typo, it's actually called the Huawei Watch. Let's... um, watch.
The design of the Android Wear device looks more or less like the Moto 360, with its metal housing and thin bezels but without its signature "flat tire" screen cutout. The Huawei Watch also has conventional lugs (presumably making for easy watch band swaps) and a single "crown" button at the 2:00 position.
When the time came to unveil its second generation smartwatch, Pebble returned to the crowdfunding site where everything began. Setting the bar low, the company only wanted $500,000 to call the Pebble Time project, the name of its new watch, a success. Within half an hour, it had already reached a million dollars. Now the project sits over $10.5 million with 29 days left to go.
Pebble played it smart with this campaign. Without having to part with a single device, the company has already attracted millions in funding and stirred up plenty of anticipation. Nearly 50,000 people have thrown money at the project thus far.