Android Wear Gets Support for Interactive Watch Faces

The interactive watch faces bring useful data right to the watch face, without requiring users to open an app to get information.

Android Wear

Android Wear's latest update now includes the ability for users to view animated interactive watch face designs right on their smartwatches; this allows users to get needed information at a glance, without having to tap an app to retrieve the details.

The new capabilities—which are part of the latest Android Wear update that also includes support for WiFi on the LG G Watch R smartwatch and updates for other smartwatches—were announced in an Aug. 20 post by Wayne Piekarski, a developer advocate, on the Android Developers Blog.

The interactive watch faces, such as the new Pujie Black face, allow users to touch the calendar indicator to instantly display information, such as the agenda for the day, "making the watch face more helpful and engaging," wrote Piekarski.

For developers, "Adding interaction to your existing watch faces is really easy with just a few extra lines of code," he wrote. "We have updated the WatchFace sample to show a complete implementation, and design and development documentation describing the API in detail."

Other new interactive watch faces include Bits (which lets users choose the info they want at a glance, including weather, unread mail, upcoming meetings and more); Under Armour (which helps users stay motivated with fitness stats on their wrist); and Together (which lets two people stay close throughout the day by turning the entire watch face into a space for sharing), according to a related Aug. 20 post on the Android Official Blog. The latest updates are rolling out to all Android Wear watches in the coming weeks.

The WiFi update for the LG G Watch R is also included in the latest Android Wear version, bringing WiFi capabilities to the device, even when a user isn't carrying their smartphone. Instead of through a phone, the WiFi in the LG G Watch R will now be able to receive notifications, send messages, make notes or ask Google a question, all on its own, wrote Piekarski.

"As a developer, you should ensure that you use the Data API to abstract away your communications, so that your application will work on any kind of Android Wear watch, even those without WiFi," he wrote.

The Android Wear update also includes the rollout of an over-the-air (OTA) update for all Android Wear watches over the coming weeks, wrote Piekarski. "The wearable support library version 1.3 provides the implementation for touch interactions, and is designed to continue working on devices that have not been updated. However, the touch support will only work on updated devices, so you should wait to update your apps on Google Play until the OTA rollout is complete, which we’ll announce on the Android Wear Developers Google+ community."

Earlier in August, Android smartwatch users began getting improved maps services, thanks to new Google Android Wear updates for Google Maps and for the API for Android Wear, which are delivering more information to the wrists of users without having to pull out their smartphones, according to an earlier eWEEK report.

In June, Android Wear added 17 more collections of watch face designs for smartwatch owners that expanded their choices for their devices, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The new Android Wear watch faces included themes from cartoon characters, such as Angry Birds, Hello Kitty and Moomin; fashion designers like Cynthia Rowley and Lulu Frost; and consumer brands, including Bang & Olufsen and Moods of Norway. Also included were whimsical robot-inspired watch face designs from illustrator Kevin Tong and colorful designs from Italian shoe and clothing retailer Geox. Most of the new faces are downloadable for free. Android Wear now features more than 1,500 downloadable watch faces that can match a smartwatch wearer's taste.

Google launched Android Wear in March 2014 to help expand the world of wearable computing devices for consumers by providing developer tools to encourage new applications for a wide range of products, from smartwatches to clothing, eyewear-mounted devices and more.