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Android Wear: All about Google's wearable OS

AndroidPIT LG G Watch R 10
Android Wear: All about Google's wearable OS. / ANDROIDPIT

What does Android Wear?

Android Wear an operating system for wearableslike smart bracelets and watches. The idea is to integrate the use of these devices with smartphones, tablets or even smart TVs. Other examples of software in this style are Tizen for wearable devices or even Pebble.

What sets Android Wear apart from Android OS is that Google bars the manufacturers interface, thus maintaining a unique and consistent visual identity among the gadgets that run with this software. The cool thing is that we have a more consistent experience with the platform and of course operating system updates are not a problem.

The way we use Android Wear is a lot like what we have with Google Now cards, which couldn't be different, since Google's voice assistant is the soul of the platform. Thus, the OS revolves around user data shared from Google account or third party applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Runtastic, for example, uses location via mobile device or embedded GPS, and sends service notifications like Gmail, WhatsApp, Play Store, weather, and other apps like Keep or Duolingo. Most of the time, information comes when you need it, especially since we're talking here about reminders that make everyday life easier.

Android wear operating system
Pairing with Android Wear. ANDROIDPIT

How does Android Wear work?

The first thing you see on the display of smartwatchIn addition to the watch face, a card with the weather notification, reminder, message, or any other card that deserves prominence the moment you activate the handset screen. When I'm leaving AndroidPIT, for example, the card showing how long it takes to get home appears first.

smartwatch android wear lg
Some basic functions of Android Wear / ANDROIDPIT

To activate the screen you need to make a movement of bringing the arm to eye reach, as if checking the time. The display remains in standby mode by default and you can enable or disable the always-on display mode, which is good for when you are using the device at night. When you want to activate the screen, you can also tap it, and by placing your palm over it, you put the gadget on standby again. Everything here is very intuitive, to mute the software, check the battery percentage, switch between screen modes and access settings, just slide your finger across the screen from top to bottom.

android wear user interface
Like a kind of quick shortcut menu, swiping your finger up and down on a smartwatch screen, for example, you access some of Android Wear's modes. / ANDROIDPIT

Once the screen is active, you can interact with the software through motion and voice commands.

Motion Commands

With the screen activated, an upward stroke shows the first card, by sliding upwards you will pass through the cards that come in a software-defined order of importance, as said above. To get rid of a card, just slide your finger from left to right. If you are interested in getting more information about a particular card, just click on it. So if you received an email by clicking under the card, you check the content, with a right swipe you undo the notification, with a left swipe you will be able to "archive" the email, With another left swipe you can "reply" to the email using a voice command, so far the only information entry mode, since the software does not have a native keyboard. Plus, you can always open the app on your smartphone for more options.

Voice commands

Like Google Now, Android Wear again allows voice commands to practice actions. Intelligent context-based and task automation features follow the same features as the software used in Google's intelligent voice assistant. Thus, both the "Ok, Google" hotword and voice commands work perfectly in Portuguese, but always with the screen activated. Although I find it a bit invasive to give voice commands to initiate actions on Android Wear, I have to say that when you are on the go and with your hands busy even very practical. For example, yesterday, I was late and my mode of transport was my bike, Gear Live on my wrist, while I was moving. I sent a message to my team bringing the gadget close to my face and saying "Ok, Google, send a message to Daniel saying I'll be late! ". Without Android Wear this would not be possible.

android wear sending messages
Voice recognition and extremely functional messaging on Android Wear. / ANDROIDPIT

Also, using a voice command, you can do basic searches like the age of Dilma Rousseff or know how many inhabitants So Paulo has. You can even use a voice command to launch a video on Chromecast or even listen to specific music on your phone using YouTube, for example.

Android Wear – User Interface and Features

Regarding the look of Google's mobile platform for wearablesIt is interesting to note that most of the applications you use daily on your smartphone They are integrated into the system and work very well. Thus, any notifications you receive on your mobile phone will automatically run on your watch. So, taking Gmail as an example, you will find the same options you find today on your smartphone's notification bar, but on your smartwatch, Such as "check message content", "archive", "reply" or access the app in question. And it all still comes with the face of Google Now cards.

email android wear
With Android Wear you can answer emails from voice and motion commands. / ANDROIDPIT

Since its launch, Android Wear has been optimized, more and more platform-optimized apps are available on the Play Store, and more native features are coming to the OS. And this is quite evident in these ten months that I have been using the software. One of the factors that always counts in my tests with devices of this kind is related to the media control function. Unfortunately, Android Wear still lacks in this respect, as, like Pebble, Gear line watches, and Samsung and Sony bracelets, it is not possible to navigate between the albums in your smartphone's memory, only between the music of particular album. So once you are on your Linkin Park list on Spotify, for example, you can only listen to the songs on this list, otherwise you will need to access the phone.

android wear music features
Media controls are accessible from the active screen. / ANDROIDPIT

Another very functional feature of Android Wear is seeing the route to a particular location on the wearable device's screen, such as LG G Watch R using Google Maps, but at some point it's inevitable to pick up the phone, which has a larger screen. and the step by step instructions.

android wear navigation
From the smartwatch you can start navigating the desired path, but you will need to resort to the smartphone at some point. / ANDROIDPIT

In recent months, especially after the Apple Watch hit the market, Google has begun releasing very important updates that have long been lacking for anyone using a smartwatch. With the latest update, Wi-Fi support has been added which makes users more independent of their smartphone when using a gadget running Android Wear. Below is a list of the major changes from the latest version of the platform:

Hands free: turning your wrist out now advances you to the next screen "and turning inwards returns you to" previous screen. "By looking at your wrist, the device will display the key information highlighted by you quickly and easily without the need to use your hands.

Without the phone: features like offline music and Wi-Fi support make it unnecessary to have your smartphone around at all times. If it is online (using mobile data or Wi-Fi) and if the watch is connected to an available Wi-Fi network, they can work together (without sharing the same network). Much like what we've seen in the operation of Google Glass.

Always-on screen and apps: It will now be possible to leave active applications without the screen going off. That is: if you are running and want to leave Maps open to find your way, or if you are shopping in the market and want to keep your Google Keep list enabled for easy access, you can already.

Draw Emojis to reply messages: If you want to quickly reply to a message with an emoticon (using SMS, Hangouts, or any messaging app), but don't want to use your voice, just draw an emoji on your watch face.

Connecting Android Wear to your mobile device

Android Wear works on devices running Android 4.3 or higher and uses a Bluetooth-connected gadget on your Android device. You will also need the Android Wear app so you can access and transmit contacts and data. The latest version of the app (v1.1) lets you pair multiple wearables and different calendar accounts.

updated android wear app
The Android Wear app store is more complete and offers very functional apps. / ANDROIDPIT




Android Wear Smartwatch
Install on Google Play

Despite the improvements being made by the Google team regarding the services offered by Android Wear, connecting to the mobile is still one of the biggest problems with the software. Now that the operating system supports Wi-Fi, when we're under wireless coverage, the experience with Android Wear gadgets has been optimized. However, when connecting to the internet through the data plan (3G / 4G) it is still a bit frustrating to utilize the full potential of a smartwatch.

Android Wear Apps

Speaking of apps for Android Wear, the search giant has a dedicated Play Store area for apps designed for Android Wear. In these ten months, new applications were made available in the store and, with the release of smartwatches Increasingly, the Android Wear app ecosystem is larger and with more functional options.

Wear Mini Launcher
More and more applications are optimized or developed especially for Android Wear. / ANDROIDPIT

Devices that support Android Wear

In Brazil, the following models of smartwatches Compatible with Android Wear: Moto 360, LG G Watch and Sony SmartWatch 2 (initially released with Sony's own wearable software). However, since mid-last year, we've had a large number of smart watches with support for Google's wearable OS coming to market:

Conclusion

After the optimizations made by the Android Wear developer team, it can be said that the platform is more mature and functional. Voice and motion commands have been improved and the application ecosystem expanded.

With the popularization of smartwatches, the experience of using the gadgets that support software for wearables from Google is better. The fact that Apple launched Apple Watch has led more people to look at this market as an alternative to ease communication and everyday tasks. Also, when looking at the portfolio of devices running Android Wear, the options are varied with respect to design, functions and price.

However, whatever you think about the software, Android Wear will not replace your phone, the idea of ​​making your gadget a complement to your smartphone and sometimes allowing you to have some independence from your device. cell phone.

What's your opinion about Android Wear? Will smartwatches be more popular in Brazil in 2015? Let us know your opinion in the comments below!

. (tagsToTranslate) Android Wear (t) test (t) review (t) features (t) price (t) smartphone (t) wearable devices