Google announced several new features in the latest Android Wear update for smartwatches. While Google’s Android blog post doesn’t specifically identify the release number, other Google sources have verified the update is Android OS 6.0 and Android Wear 1.4. In comparison, the first-generation Moto 360 watch I use currently runs Android OS 5.1.1 and Android Wear 1.3.0.
The first set of new features are new navigation gestures, which are documented in anAndroid Wear Help page. The first of three new gestures is “take action on a card,” which lets you select options in a menu or go back to a previous screen. The instructions for this gesture are:
Hold your arm in front of you and quickly push down, and bring it back normally to the original position.
Pushing down on a card will take you to that card’s first action. Pushing down a second time will select that first action, which is the most common action. There is not a way to select or perform an action after the first action using solely gestures. You go back by performing the gesture in reverse.
The second set of new gestures lets you open the apps menu and pull down settings from the watch face. Opening the apps menu is done by holding your arm in front of you and quickly pushing down, and then bringing it back normally to the original position. Pulling down settings is done by slowly turning your wrist away from you then quickly flicking back towards you.
The third new gesture lets you get back to the watch face by holding your arm in front of you and shaking your wrist out and in quickly a couple of times.
The second new feature is the ability to send messages to Google Hangouts, Nextplus, Telegram, Viber, WeChat, and WhatsApp by speaking to an Android Wear wristwatch.
The third and final new feature is potentially the most useful, but it’s limited to Android Wear watches that have a built-in speaker. Google notes that two currently available watches have speakers: The Huawei Watch and the ASUS ZenWatch 2 (49mm). With the update, you can make phone calls and listen to messages right from the watch, as long as it has a speaker. (The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE was the first Android Wear watch to include a speaker.)
The announcement says the update will become available on the various Android Wear smartwatch models over the next few weeks. If you are considering developing an Android Wear watch app, read Google’s official API 23 SDK documentation.