This week Google finally presented the long-awaited update of its operating system for wearables. After a rather irregular start of the platform, Android Wear 2.0 should be the pillar that supports smartwatches with Google's operating system. It is their last chance, so they had better get it right this time with the new features introduced. Time is against them and if they fail to penetrate the market it could be the last nail in the coffin of their operating system for watches.
You have already had the opportunity to read some of the news in the update for the Polar M600but I want to go a little deeper into the common news of the platform, beyond specific updates for a particular clock.
What's new in Android Wear 2.0
Android Wear 2.0 will mean an important change in many aspects. Later I will go into more general details, but where I want to go deeper is in the more specific functions in its sports use. In short, you are not in a usual technology blog, but here I talk about sports technologyIt's obvious that I'm focusing on that, right? But I don't want to leave out the rest of the platform's possibilities either, so let's go there.
New version of Google Fit
Among all the new features presented, the new Google Fit application is the one that will be most interesting to all of us who use different technology to record our sports activity.
Along with Android Wear 2.0 comes a new version of Google's sports application. First seen in the LG Watch Sport (one of the two watches that Google has introduced along with Android Wear 2.0), the new Google Fit application allows you to record weight training or other exercises related to your gym sessions.
Within the application there is now a strength training mode, which will be able to detect reps automatically and identify more than 20 different exercises.
Once you have identified the exercise and the reps, you can enter the weight used. You can start the exercise and start doing biceps exercises. Once you have finished, simply press the pause button. You can then enter the weight used.
If you don't want to mess around with the clock between exercises, you can simply go on to the next one. The application automatically detects when each exercise begins and ends and when you go on to the next one. You can start by doing ten bench presses, twenty biceps and twelve dumbbell side lifts. And when you're done, Google Fit will show the first exercise you did so you can enter the weight used, and then it will continue with the rest of the exercises.
Even Google Fit will remember what weight you used in each exercise, so when you repeat the exercise with the same weight, it will remember what was the last weight used so you just have to confirm.
Not only will you follow up on weight bearing exercises, but also others such as burpees, squats, push-ups, and more-even exercises where the wrist is not part of the exercise, such as twin extensions.
Of course I don't expect the watch to perfectly quantify the number of repetitions, just as in other watches with swimming, there will be times when I don't make the correct recording. Still, it is a remarkable function and one that no other watch has ever performed before.
This function, which has been introduced with the new LG Watch Sport is not exclusive to that particular model, but will be present in other models that support the operating system, although it is not yet clear which ones. For example, the also presented LG Watch Style (a less sporty watch) does not have this option in Google Fit, although technically it could support it. Google indicates that it is not added because it could compromise the device's battery, but in terms of sensors it only needs a gyroscope and accelerometer, something present in the vast majority of smart watches so there should be no problem to see it in the Polar M600 or in the New Balance RunIQ.
With Android Wear 2.0, the ratio of phone to clock is decreasing. Now the applications are more independent since they are not applications that accompany the one you have installed on the phone. This is something that, for example, happened in the case of Strava.
This application has been available for Android Wear practically from the beginning, but it was tied to the phone completely. Even though the clock had GPS and did not need the mobile phone to perform the location, it was necessary for Strava to be installed on the clock for later synchronization when the activity was over.
With the new version of Android Wear, the mobile application is no longer needed, nor is it necessary to install it, since you can now download the application directly from your watch. And what happens with Strava can happen with any other existing or future sports application, thus giving you total independence from your phone.
Enhanced iOS support
Another of Android Wear's Achilles' heels was iPhone support. Not only was it less useful, but there was no way to install applications on the clock. If you used an iPhone in conjunction with a smart clock with Android Wear, it was far less smart than its Android equivalent.
Bringing the app store to the clock (instead of using the phone as a bridge) solves the problem, as even the clocks will have an on-screen keyboard for searching. Yes, it may seem that the screen is too small for comfortable use, although Google has worked quite a bit on slide-out typing to provide satisfactory performance. If you still find it uncomfortable, you can always enter the Google app store from any computer and request to download the application to your device. Thanks to WiFi (and even LTE) connectivity, no connection to your phone is required to download.
And I haven't seen confirmation, but I guess it will be possible to download music directly to the clock.
New possibilities to add customizations to the watch faces, being able to show data of your daily activity, distance traveled, heart rate or any other detail. Previously this had to be integrated in the watch face, not being able to make any changes on it.
You can also create different panels or widgets (similar to what Garmin offers) where you can have more relevant information at hand, and not only with system applications, but also with third party applications (for example, the latest Strava training).
More than a revolution, Google has carried out a refinement of the platform, trying to catch up with what Apple and Samsung are doing. Android Wear is now better, more capable and more friendly. Enough to bring out the Android Wear platform? Only time (and mainly the market) will be able to answer that question.
But the fact that big developers like Apple or Google invest a large part of their resources in providing specific functions for fitness and sport can only be good news for us, the users who practice sport. This makes the market more dynamic and forces the competition to launch new features.
And with that... thanks for reading!