With the unveiling of the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, we knew that cellular and speaker capabilities were coming to Android Wear. Yesterday, Google officially announced cellular support and explained how the feature will let you use your watch without being near a phone. However, missing from that post were details about whether or not the watch will communicate back to you using its speaker and whether other watches with speakers will also be able to do the same.
Cody's teardowns of various Google apps yesterday revealed the underlying basis for speaker support on Android Wear. We know that Play Music will likely let you play music through the speaker and Google's app is ready to implement text-to-speech. But it turns out that Google has already revealed a bit more about speaker functionality on new watches, except it hid it in its Support pages. A new "Audio Feedback" feature is coming to Wear, but it's going to be billed as an accessibility option.
With audio feedback enabled, your watch will be mostly usable without you having to look at it. I can think of a few times when this could be useful, like driving, running, doing various exercises, and obviously for visually impaired users. Your watch will tell you the time, read your cards, let you know which options are available on the screen, and place and answer calls, all through its built-in speaker. There's an added option to end the call with the power button so you don't have to hunt down on the screen for the red circle.
However, it seems like this is an all-or-nothing feature. First, it turns wrist gestures on by default. Second, everything will be read to you, including the current time every single time you wake up the watch. Google's support page explains all the details, but it's clear that the option is built with visually impaired people in mind, not someone who just wants their watch to speak back when they can't focus on the screen.
- Google Support