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article imageGoogle says faster Android Wear 2.0 won't arrive until 2017

By James Walker     Sep 30, 2016 in Technology
Google has announced it's postponing the launch of its upcoming Android Wear 2.0 update until 2017. The release includes improved performance, a revised user interface and expanded support for cellular connections but has been delayed for testing.
Android Wear 2.0 was announced alongside Android 7.0 "Nougat" at Google I/O earlier this year. The company said Wear 2.0 would launch "this fall," a vague window implying the last quarter of the year. Google has now decided against the original plan though, opting instead for "early 2017."
In a development blog post, it said it has decided to extend the current preview program into the new year. It suggests Google is still testing the updated software, fixing bugs and tweaking issues. The company thanked developers for their feedback so far.
Google also announced several more features coming with Wear 2.0. It released the third developer preview of the software, bringing with it a version of the Play Store designed for smartwatches. Users can browse recommended apps from the home screen. It is possible to search for apps using recommended queries or keyboard, voice and handwriting inputs.
Play Store for Android Wear includes support for multiple accounts and the ability to opt into and out of alpha and beta tests. Apps can be managed directly from the watch, allowing users to update or uninstall them without using their phone. In Android Wear 2.0, apps will be entirely decoupled from their phone counterparts. It's now possible to install an app to just the watch, a regular request from users.
Google said it has brought the Play Store directly to smartwatches in response to feedback from developers and customers. It ran studies that found users "repeatedly looked for and asked for" a way to find and install new apps on their watch, without having to head to their phone. Android Wear 2.0 will make this possible.
The third developer preview includes a few other tweaks and changes. There's now support for Smart Reply when responding to a message notification. It generates replies using an intelligent on-watch machine learning model, letting users send a response with a single tap. Additionally, Android Wear has a new interface component that makes it easier for developers to display vertical lists of information.
The features join those present in the existing developer preview builds. Android Wear 2.0 is the most significant update to the wearable platform since it launched in 2014. It has integrated messaging, more watch faces and an onscreen keyboard for the first time. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections are handled in a new way, enabling apps to directly interact with them, and the entire OS has been sped up by storing apps on the watch rather than on a paired phone.
The update is still in development while Google finishes off the last few features and improves the existing ones. The company said Developer Preview 4 will arrive before the public release, suggesting it still has more to reveal.
More about Google, Android, android wear, wearables, smartwatches
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