Google Updates Maps App, Android Wear API

The new Android Wear maps app will help smartwatch wearers get better information on their devices for travel and commuting.

Android Wear updates

Android smartwatch users will now get improved maps services thanks to new Google Android Wear updates for Google Maps and for the API for Android Wear, which will deliver more information to the wrists of users without having to pull out their smartphones.

The updates were announced by Ben Greenwood, product manager for Google Maps, in a July 31 post on the Android Official Blog.

"Just say 'OK, Google, navigate to…' to bring up Google Maps' improved turn-by-turn guidance and full-screen navigation view on your watch," wrote Greenwood. "And with always-on screen support, your map view remains on your wrist in battery-saving mode, even when you're not actively looking at your screen."

The improved apps are aimed at helping users get timely and local information, sent directly to their watches, he wrote. That includes many travel apps that integrate with Google Maps on Android Wear to provide more information, he wrote.

"Use HotelTonight to track hotel rates and get notified right on your watch when the price is right," wrote Greenwood. "Forgot to pack your toothbrush? Priceline customers can use Android Wear to locate the closest convenience store."

Other apps can be tied in, including FourSquare, TripAdvisor and Citymapper and many more.

"No matter where you go, Android Wear lets you stay on track while freeing your hands for an ice-cream cone—or two," wrote Greenwood. "So before you hit the road this summer, be sure to pack your Android Wear watch and your favorite travel apps."

Android Wear was launched by Google in March 2014 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.

In December 2014, the Android Wear app was updated to add new features for users, while Google also released a new watch face API that allows developers to create new electronic watch faces for Android Wear devices. The updates give Android Wear users wider choices in setting up their devices to fit their personalities and style choices, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The new Android Wear smartphone app updates made it easier for users to browse, download and switch the digital watch faces on their devices.

In April, Android Wear gained new WiFi and wrist gesture capabilities to expand its capabilities for users, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Smartwatch users previously could use built-in GPS and offline music capabilities to get those services in the past, but the built-in WiFi support greatly expands their capabilities. Also added was a new wrist flicking gesture that makes smartwatch apps simpler to use, especially while users are in motion.

In March, Google, Intel and Swiss luxury watch maker TAG Heuer announced that Android Wear would power a new smartwatch being designed by TAG Heuer.