Big things are happening for the smallest of Android devices. Over the last month, we've seen several attempts to extend the capabilities of Android Wear, some have worked out, while others haven't fared so well. Most of the activity has come in the form of 3rd-party apps, so there hasn't been much action for dedicated modders. That is, until today. Team Win just posted its first official custom recovery for the LG G Watch (dory).
Welcome to the future, ladies and gents. Your jacket isn't dry, your pizza isn't freeze-dried, and your car can't fly, but if it comes from Tesla, it's still pretty cool. If you also happen to have an Android Wear device, you can pretend to be Michael Knight by talking to your car through your watch, thanks to the unofficial Tesla Command app for Wear. Unfortunately it won't talk back, unless you count honking the horn.
Like other Google I/O attendees, I picked up an Android Wear device at the conference. I went with the LG G Watch. What follows is not really a review so much as my experiences and thoughts about Wear thus far, having lived with it literally every day since picking it up. I'll include some of my opinions on the platform (ignoring for now the hardware), and what I think might be relevant insights and comparisons to Google's other efforts (like Glass).
If you've been dying to start poking around the Android Wear source code, now is the time! Google just posted 4.4W to AOSP. The active development branches are distributed throughout each project repository as kitkat-wear. This is the location where further patches and minor updates will appear. There is are also tags for android-4.4w_r1 (build KTU84Q), which represent the first official release of the platform.
There aren't any repositories for either Dory (LG G Watch) or Sprat (Samsung Gear Live), but we can't be certain if they will appear in AOSP or if the distribution of device specific source code will be left up to the manufacturers.
Google designed Android Wear around Google Now and notifications, but developers are hard at work extending additional functionality. One such effort is Wearable Widgets, which just added support for Wear in v2.0. It was previously only for Glass and the Sony Smartwatch. Basically, it sends a widget from your phone to your watch.
Yesterday, Google's Camera app was updated to add a pretty handy remote shutter feature that can be used on a paired Android Wear wristwatch. But what if you're packing some serious camera equipment –let's say, something in the Canon EOS family– and you'd like to appear in some of your own shots from time to time? Chainfire has you covered with the latest update to his incredibly powerful DSLR Controller. Not only does the new version offer a remote shutter button on Android Wear, but it's also sporting some big improvements to the Timelapse feature, new white icons and faster wi-fi transfer speeds on KitKat, and fixes for the way SD cards are handled on KitKat and above.
Google's Camera app just got a bump up to version 2.3 (rolling out in stages of course), which adds a very welcome feature - remote shutter functionality for Android Wear devices.
We saw hints of this functionality inside the code of a previous version of the Camera app, but now that Wear devices have hit release, it's finally live. Users need only open the Camera app on their phone or tablet, and Wear will automatically insert a card for remote capture.
Google's recently launched Android Wear platform had a bit of a rough weekend when it ran into an unexpected snag regarding paid apps – it couldn't install them. It turns out that the behavior could be traced to a Play Store security feature that was responsible for encrypting paid apps to make them more difficult to pirate; but in doing so, it had also made it impossible to extract and install any micro-apps contained within the apk.
Google's hot new item, Android Wear, is barely out of the box, but there's already a pretty big issue deserving of a place in our Bug Watch series. The initial rush of native Android Wear apps is starting to roll into the Play Store as developers get their hands dirty with the freshly released SDK. So far, most of these apps have been given away at no cost, but the few that have attempted to charge a fee have run into a wall.
LG's G Watch is one of the first two devices to launch with Android Wear. The G Watch, along with Samsung's Gear Live, are expected to be available for pre-order from the Play Store today, so it's worth taking a quick look at how the two stack up. The Gear Live is still awaiting our hands-on treatment, but we've already spent a little time with the G Watch.
For those who aren't caught up, LG's first Android Wear entry is a 37.9x46.5x9.95mm smart watch with a 1.65" IPS display at 280x280.