Friday, December 8, 2017

Android Wear Oreo Update Rolling Out to Supported Smartwatches

It wasn’t that long ago that smartwatches were poised to become the “next big thing.” Google announced Android Wear, a version of Android optimized for wearables, in 2014. Multiple smartwatches were released that year, including popular ones like the Moto 360. But despite tens of millions in collective sales and uptake from luxury Swiss brands like Tag Heuer, Android Wear smartwatches have struggled to live up to the hype.

But that hasn’t kept Google from chipping away at it. On Wednesday, Googler Hoi Lam announced in a Google+ post that Android Wear devices will receive Oreo starting today. The timing’s up to each individual manufacturer, Mr. Lam said, which means that not all supported watches will get it at once. But some LG G Watch owners reported seeing an update as early as Wednesday night.

Here’s what’s new in the Android Wear Oreo update:

  • Notification vibration strength setting
  • Touch lock option for wet conditions
  • Support for 7 new countries / languages
  • Plus more. E.g. Notification channels, battery saving background limits

Though smartwatches have their uses, sky-high price tags and a nascent app ecosystem has kept them from breaking into the mainstream. Most tech press seems to agree: They’re convenient for a particular subset of users, but they’re not indispensable.

That’s one reason the Android Wear platform’s languished after a promising 2014, its first year on the market. Manufacturers continued to release smartwatches in 2015, but the number dipped in 2016 after Google repeatedly pushed back the release Android Wear 2.0.

Despite Android Wear’s waning popularity, Google remains committed to it as a platform. The search giant released version 2.0 alongside the LG Watch Sport and the LG Watch Style in February, which brought much-needed improvements to the platform.

Get the update yet? Let us know in the comments. 


Hoi Lam (on Google+)

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