Google is now running scared and are apparently not taking any chances.
Google I/O is coming Thursday May 28th 2015 and Friday May 29th 2015, but the Android Wear team has decided now is the time for a major update to the Android Wear platform ahead of the Apple Watch Launch.
The Apple Watch is yet to land in the hands of customers come Friday April 24th 2015 and already analysts are touting its success, with estimates of 1 million for more according to analyst Cowen and Co. Their figures are nothing but estimates, but it fall in line with earlier estimates by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
If true, not only has the Apple Watch thoroughly trounced Google Android Wear sales total of 720,000 Google Android Wear smartwatches sold in all of 2014 but it the Apple Watch may have also eclipsed the Pebble smartwatch army that they’ve amassed or the two (2) years they’ve been in operation as noted in Pebble’s 1 million smartwatches Army as Apple Watch set to launch in April 2015.
So no Apple Watch killing by the Pebble time may be in the works as I’d predicted in my article Pebble Time promises a smartwatch to rain on Apple Watch’s Parade.
Apple’s total sales, which the company is yet to reveal, may have total decimated BOTH Android Wear and Pebble. Hence the Android Wear update.
Google updates Android Wear – More geeky features options for OEM’s for a tether-free smartwatch
This major update to the Android Wear platform promises that the OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturer) will have loads of features to play with when designing their smartwatches.
One such feature takes advantage of a smartwatch’s build in gyroscope to allow wearers to flick through the various menus by a twist of their wrist. Twist your wrist towards you allows you to see the next onscreen card in the queue while twisting away shows the previous card in the queue.
Jealous of Apple’s finger drawn Emoji’s?
Google Wear has got ’em to, with the option to write the emojis with your finger and have Google interpret them for you and add them to your messages. Even if you miss the mark, Android Wear has an optional list that you can access in a pinch.
In place of the Sleep Mode that shuts down most OLED Smartwatch screens when not in use, there is a monochromatic power-saving screen.
This is a lot like the Ultra Power Saver Mode in most Samsung smartphones and like those products, it makes the screen monochromatic, reducing power consumption while allowing you to still access the smartwatches’ functions….and you’re grocery shopping list!
Improvements to the app selection screen and the inclusion of Wi-Fi round out the improvement to Android Wear are the next thing in this major update. Saying “OK Google” to utilize the voice recognition features serves little purpose if you cannot remember the name of the app, as it’s hard to scroll through that long menu with those little words on this tiny little screen.
Now, the layers of obtrusiveness have been removed, making it now a matter of just touching the screen to run Apps and check on your notifications.
The Wi-Fi option will seek out open Wi-Fi connection and enable you to accepting or rejecting phone calls, do voice based search online and receiving notifications, all without being tethered to your Google Android smartphone.
However, there is a caveat; your Google Android smartphone, wherever it is, has to be on and have a 3G or 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) Data connection. The Apple Watch can do this, but only if the Apple iPhone is on the same Wi-Fi Network.
Still, albeit the Apple Watch has limited functionality without being bluetooth-tethered to the Apple iPhone, Android Wear still lacks support for payments via NFC, something which Apple Watch has with Apple Pay.
So dear reader, do you think these updates, combined with the lower Price point, will make Google’s Android Wear smartwatches competitive with the Apple Watch luxury priced offerings? Friday April 24th 2015, Apple Watch day will come and go; we’ll hear more concrete things about Google Android Wear come Google I/O in May 2015.
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