Google is keeping a tight grip on Android as it expands the operating system out to watches, TVs, and automobiles. To understand this, take a look at the existing Wear watches on the market. Aside from shape and specs, the software experience is the same across devices. This may change in the future. A Google executive has told Re/code that the company plans to loosen its restrictions over time.
Late yesterday, Google began rolling out an update to the Android Wear companion app. Despite a sudden growth of over 2 MB in size, the app only seemed to change the text of a warning, and there were no visible changes on our watches. We knew there had to be something great hidden under the covers, and we were right. The companion app certainly has some interesting changes of its own, but it also acts as the delivery mechanism for a Wear-customized version of Google Play services, and there's a bit to talk about in there, too.
Material Design was the driving force behind a Google+ update that began rolling out on Friday. But while there may be a newer look, there's very little to speak of in the department of functional changes. Naturally, I had to poke around to see if there were any surprises buried underneath the fresh coat of paint. As it turns out, there are a few things worth talking about. It's time for a Teardown!
Despite having some serious (and apparently isolated) issues with his unit's battery, our fearless leader Artem is thoroughly enjoying his Moto 360 smartwatch. He described the Stealth360 watch face from developer Flying Rhino as, and I quote, "sweet as hell."
Stealth360 shies away from some of the more conventional Braun-style designs included with the Moto 360 itself, in favor of something closer to a Razer or Alienware look. (Think Tron, but with a little more restraint.) Despite hands and markers that are designed to look sleek, it's pretty functional as a standard watch, thanks to easy-to-read layout.
With the obvious exception of watch faces themselves, there aren't many parts of Android Wear that actually benefit from the round screens of the Moto 360 and the upcoming G Watch R - not even Google's official apps. A new and relatively humble tip calculator is the first Wear app I've seen that makes really excellent use of the extra radial space. It's called (appropriately) Wear Tip Calculator.
The app uses a circular design.
Did you make it to Google I/O 2014? If so, you've probably been waiting on the edge of your seat for Google to send a Moto 360 to each of this year's attendees. Well, the wait is over! Almost. Shipping notifications have gone out to each of the lucky recipients indicating that the packages are on the way.
The packages are coming out of Fremont, California with 2-day shipping via FedEx.
If you have neither a G Watch nor a Nexus 5 but want both and you live in the right market, Google has a deal for you. In certain countries, Google is offering up discounts on the Nexus 5 when you buy a G Watch. So far it looks like the deal is available in Europe and Australia, with the UK getting a £60 discount on the N5, other Europeans receiving an €80 price break, and Australians shaving AUS$100 off 2013's Nexus phone, a device that already competed on price.
WhatsApp was surprisingly quick off the draw after the release of Android Wear, updating its sideloaded beta app with Wear support early this month. Now the 2.11.362 update is available on the general play store release, so even users who don't want to use the beta (or who don't know about it) can get richer WhatsApp chat notifications on their wrists. Huzzah!
The update to the main app includes most of the standard Wear messaging stuff: full long message viewing, nested/stacked messages with sliding navigation between them, and the usual reply via voice option.
We owe many thanks to Best Buy for outing the details of several products a bit before their time. It seems the retailer is at it again with a posting of the Moto 360, including a price and most of the product specs. At some time in the near future, $250 will be all that stands in the way of picking up Motorola's brand new wearable. Unfortunately, it's just listed as "Coming Soon" without any release date.
If you've managed to stick with Ingress for a year or two now, then maybe you should show others just how committed you are. There's no need for anything extravagant. Those of you who happen to own an Android Wear device can just head over to the Play Store and give this free Ingress-integrated watchface a download. Then when people see it, they will be, well, just as confused as they were when they saw you hanging out by that old, abandoned record store last weekend.