Google’s highly anticipated update to the Android Wear operating system will arrive in “early February.” The visual overhaul and improved features are expected to reinvigorate the company’s smartwatch platform, as a number of companies and fashion brands have already announced Android Wear watches set to release this year.
A Google+ user has posted a screenshot of an email from the Google Play Developer team, urging developers to publish their apps for Android Wear 2.0. The email also announced the time frame for the update’s release.
“Android Wear 2.0 is launching in early February 2017,” according to the email. “It includes a new on-watch Play Store to help users discover apps right on their wrist.”
The news is unsurprising as Google has mentioned the update would be released in the first quarter of 2017 — but now we have a firmer time frame. The company is expected to announce two Android Wear smartwatches, though it’s unclear if the watches will debut alongside the update or at a later time.
At CES 2017, Casio announced a new watch that will be released in April with Android Wear 2.0, as did New Balance. Swarovski said it is also collaborating with Qualcomm and Google on a smartwatch “for her,” and Qualcomm’s director of wearables says more smartwatches from fashion brands are to be expected this year — especially at Baselworld 2017, an annual jewelry and watch trade show.
If you own an Android Wear device, the following watches will receive the update: Asus ZenWatch 2, Asus ZenWatch 3, Casio WSD-F10, Moto 360 Gen. 2, Moto 360 Sport, Tag Heuer Connected, LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, LG Watch Urbane, LG G Watch R, Polar M600, Fossil Q Wander, Fossil Q Marshal, Fossil Q Founder, Michael Kors Access Bradshaw Smartwatch, Michael Kors Access Dylan Smartwatch, Nixon Mission, Huawei Watch, and Huawei Watch Ladies.
Apart from design changes, Android Wear 2.0 introduces watch-face “Complications,” which act like miniature widgets for notifications on your watch. The update also adds an on-watch Play Store and standalone apps, meaning you won’t need to be connected to your phone all the time. The OS will also recognize activities and can begin tracking them automatically — something many fitness trackers can do already.
You’ll also find improved input options for responding to texts and messages — namely, a keyboard, swiping through letters, scribbling, and smart replies that now make it easier to type. The update will also enable support for Android Pay, though you’ll need a device with NFC, as well as the Google Assistant.
For more details about Android Wear 2.0, here’s our hands-on from Google’s developer conference last year.