Android Wear, which was introduced in March, just received two key new features that make it even more important as a wearables software platform: support for in-device GPS sensors and the ability to store music so users can listen right from their devices.
The new capabilities were unveiled by Kenny Stoltz, the Android Wear product manager, in an Oct. 23 post on the Official Android Blog.
The new GPS sensor support means that Android smartwatch users whose devices include GPS sensors will be able to take advantage of broad GPS route, distance and speed capabilities, wrote Stoltz. So far, the upcoming new Sony SmartWatch 3 is the only smartwatch that includes such a sensor, he wrote. That smartwatch is available by preorder from Verizon Wireless and will soon be available through Google Play, wrote Stoltz.
"Whether you're training for a marathon or you just ride your bike on weekends, Android Wear is great for tracking things like route, distance and speed," he wrote. "But before today, you had to keep your phone close at hand. Starting today, Wear supports watches with GPS sensors, so you can enjoy these features, regardless of where your phone's at."
The Android Wear software update also means that users will be able to leave their smartphones behind if they want to listen to music using the smartwatches because the devices will now also be able to store music for the first time, he wrote.
"You want to be able to turn up the volume on your favorite tunes, but the fewer devices the better when you're jogging 'round the bend," wrote Stoltz. "Now you can store music on your watch, listen to it via Bluetooth headphones, and leave your phone at home."
Back in March, Google launched Android Wear to help expand the world of wearable computing devices for consumers. The first step was introducing developer tools to encourage the development of smartwatches. The idea of wearables, according to Google, is that they understand the context of the world around their wearers and can interact with their users simply and efficiently with just a glance or a spoken word.