Google has promised standalone music playback over Bluetooth as part of Android Wear for some time, and it appears with Wear version 4.4W2 we're finally getting it, at least if you use Play Music (you're also getting new playback controls). If you're using the latest Play Music APK on your Android phone and have the Android 4.4W2 update on your smartwatch, you can now download your pinned music from your smartphone to your watch.
We spotted it in a teardown of the new material Play Music app this morning, but it looks like a new set of media controls in Android Wear are live - and here's exactly what they look like.
The new controls get a red-themed makeover and volume +/- buttons, plus a nifty kind of physical remote key animation. It's nice. For Play Music, these new controls require two things: the material version of Play Music (which contains an updated mini APK for Wear with these controls) and the 4.4W2 update to Wear, which is rolling out to some devices now, like the LG G Watch.
Back in September, we heard Google's official plans to update Android Wear and add more functionality to the platform and its watches. The first update promised to bring GPS and offline music playback capabilities, so that Wear watches could be used without a phone to track activities and listen to tunes via Bluetooth. The second update is supposed to add native support for watch faces. And it looks like LG's G Watch is the first Android Wear device to start benefiting from these additions.
The most fitness oriented of Android Wear devices so far is now listed in the Play Store. None other than the Sony SmartWatch 3, from the company that previously said it was sticking with its non-Android watch platform. Yeah, that went well.
Among the invariably dull and recycled ideas we see on Kickstarter every day, only very few manage to come up with an interesting approach that may make us want to open our wallet and part with our hard-earned cash. AMPY is as close to being this cool and must-have accessory as it gets. It's a kinetic charger for phones and accessories. That's right, clean and renewable energy for your gadgets, and all you have to do is get off the couch and move.
The Pebble used to be arguably the best smartwatch in the game, and if your primary concern is battery life or you want a ton of apps to play with right now, then it's still your best bet. But the competition has upped its game, and the black and white display of the Pebble Steel looks like a hard sell next to the colorful, circular one of the Moto 360.
One of the issues with the Moto 360 has been the battery life, while I think it's always been good enough to get the job done, there was no denying that other Android Wear devices had it beaten. However, last week's OTA update might have done more than it let on. Some users are reporting as much as 50% more battery life on the 360 after that update.
Android Wear is picking up steam with three devices currently available, and several more still dropping later this year. You'll be able to adorn your wrist with whatever kind of screen you want—square, round, slightly different square, slightly different round, and I'm sure many others. You'll want apps to make your screen of choice worth using, and that's where the Roundup comes in. Here are all the Wear apps that didn't suck from the last few weeks.
The Pebble team is continuing to pump life into their monochromatic smartwatch, and it's now rolling out an update that toggles on a few new features. Version 2.5 of the Pebble firmware brings support for emoji, enables compass functionality, and introduces iOS 8 compatibility (one of the items on this change log impacts us less than the others). Just like the previous updates, you get the goods by firing up the Android app and making sure it's paired with your watch.