Update: We’ve now gone hands-on with the new Android Wear 2.0 platform – check out the updates to the platform that we’ve tried out.
Android Wear 2.0 is the first ‘big’ update to the wearable platform from the search giant since its creation in 2014 – but don’t get super-excited, as it’s only covering three main areas.
There are some changes to the watch faces, additions to the messaging platforms and slight overhauls in the fitness area too.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Google’s Android N update to its wearable platform
- When is it out? Autumn 2016
- What will it cost? Absolutely nothing
Android Wear 2.0 release date
Announced at Google I/O 2016, Android Wear 2.0 is headed to compatible smartwatches at some point during the autumn season. That means you’ll have to wait just a few more months.
However, if you’re a developer, you can sample an early preview build of the upcoming OS update right now. To do that, head over to Google’s developer page to find out how.
Currently, only the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition and Huawei Watch are eligible for the preview, but keep in mind that you’ll void your device’s warranty by flashing it. (That didn’t stop us from doing it to ours so that we could give you a good look at the beta.)
Unlike Google’s smartphone OS, Android Wear updates usually arrive on all eligible watches at the same point. So, whenever Android Wear 2.0 lands, expect it to be widely available OTA across much of the Android Wear lineup.
Android Wear 2.0 compatibility
Google hasn’t drawn an official line between who will be the haves and have nots for the upcoming Android Wear 2.0 update. But, based on recent statements made by some smartwatch manufacturers on Twitter, it’s not looking good for some of the early models.
As most Android Wear devices run on the same Snapdragon 400 system on chip (SoC), it’s difficult to pinpoint how it’s being decided which watches make it through to the next round and which ones don’t.
In regards to the LG G Watch, it’s lacking a hardware button, a now-essential component of Android Wear 2.0. So, if your smartwatch has a button, it at least has a fighting chance of making the grade.
We’ll update this section once we hear either way from more manufacturers.
Certain smartwatches, like the Moto 360 (2015), Fossil Q Founder and LG Watch Urbane, currently offer limited compatibility on iOS. While we’ll take what we can get, it is admittedly a bare bones offering.
Will Android Wear 2.0 bring about broader and more feature-packed compatibility to iOS? It’s hard to say at this point and Google hasn’t spoken of improved compatibility. The company’s focus is, obviously, getting things spiffed up on Android first, but we hope that its smartwatch platform will continue to make headway on iOS, as the Apple Watch is one of the very few viable wearable options.