Google I/O 2016
Google’s Android Put on smartwatch platform launched greater than two years in the past and it’s now supported by greater than a dozen manufacturers and runs on greater than one hundred watch designs. In the present day, the corporate took the wraps off model 2.zero of Android Put on, the most important replace of the platform but.
Google will launch the developer preview of Put on 2.zero at I/O, however it’ll take till the autumn earlier than this new model will roll out to all customers.
As Google VP of Engineering for Android Put on David Singleton informed me, the workforce took a better take a look at how individuals are utilizing their watches now that they’ve been available on the market for some time and targeted on enhancing these options. The brand new model, he stated, represents a “holistic cross throughout the design of the entire system” and focuses on offering customers extra glanceable info, improved messaging instruments (together with help for keyboards, handwriting recognition and sensible replies), in addition to new health and wellness options.
Perhaps probably the most instantly noticeable change the staff made is to deliver much more of Google’s Materials Design philosophy to Android Put on.
Because of this, the design now seems to be extra polished, however, as Singleton famous, the thought right here wasn’t to easily take the Materials Design tips from different platforms and apply them to Android Put on. As an alternative, the workforce made changes when mandatory. In follow, this implies Android Put on lists on spherical Android Put on watches now curve alongside the aspect of the display, for instance.
By default, the navigation drawer is now additionally all the time on the prime of the display and notifications present up on the backside — placing the knowledge on the middle.
The replace additionally places a stronger emphasis on colour (the notifications use the first colour of the app that created them, for instance).
Watch faces, too, are getting an replace in Put on 2.zero. Because of the brand new Problems API, watch face builders will now be capable of use a unified API to incorporate knowledge from different purposes on their watch faces. At present, these builders need to construct one-off integrations with different purposes just like the calendar, Google Match, Strava or Spotify. Now, they’ll have the ability to designate various spots on their watch faces for these third-social gathering integrations and customers will have the ability to tweak them based on their wants. App builders will have the ability to select which knowledge you need to share with watch face builders.
Singleton famous that the API additionally permits for pulling in photographs from Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive and different providers.
Whereas watch faces are fascinating, although, Singleton informed me that when the workforce checked out how individuals used their watches, interactions with messaging was “off the charts.” With Put on 2.zero, the workforce targeted on making interacting with messages a considerably higher expertise.
Within the present model of Put on, messages have a tendency to cover in an expandable panel on the backside of the web page. Now, when your watch buzzes, you will notice the message full display and you may work together with it immediately (and when you don’t, you’ll see the individual’s avatar on the watch face the subsequent time you wake the watch to remind you of the incoming message).
The largest modifications, although, have been reserved for a way you reply to messages. Earlier than, you needed to swipe to the aspect to answer to messages, for instance. Now, you merely faucet on the message and Put on will drop you right into a mini-app that exhibits you extra knowledge and potential actions.
The staff added three new options for responding to messages, too, along with the prevailing voice and emoji replies. Identical to in Inbox by Gmail, now you can use Google’s Sensible Replies, which use machine studying to routinely give you three attainable solutions to an incoming message.
As well as, Put on 2.zero presents help for keyboards. Given the dimensions of those watches, we’re speaking about some critically small keyboards right here, so it stays to be seen how helpful this function shall be. Google itself is providing its personal swipeable keyboard, however Singleton tells me we’ll additionally see third-celebration keyboards for Android Put on.
He additionally famous that Google had experimented with this when it first launched Put on two years in the past. On the time, although, neither the software program nor the watches have been quick and dependable sufficient. Now, because of Google’s advances in machine studying, it’s typically sufficient to only sort a phrase or two after which have the keyboard guess the subsequent phrase, making extended typing in your watch pointless.
When Google first tried this function, most customers have been solely capable of sort a number of phrases per minute. Singleton tells me this quantity is now as much as the “tens of phrases per minute” and that Google’s testers report that it feels fairly quick. I don’t fairly see myself utilizing these small keyboards all that a lot, however I’ll reserve judgement till I’ve truly used this new function.
Additionally new in Put on 2.zero is handwriting recognition, which works identical to you’d anticipate it to. You possibly can write single letters or be a part of them collectively to type full phrases. The know-how right here is predicated on the identical instruments Google constructed for its handwriting enter on Android.
Like nearly all smartwatch platforms, Android Put on places an emphasis on providing its customers health metrics. “Individuals need their watch to be an incredible coach,” Singleton advised me. “Nice coaches take note of what you’re doing and supply the fitting information on the proper time.” To do that, Android Put on now has a greater understanding of what you’re doing, because of the brand new Match Platform Exercise Recognition API, which may inform whether or not you’re strolling, operating or biking, for instance. Based mostly on this knowledge, the watch can then routinely begin the correct software. Should you begin biking, for instance, it will probably routinely begin Strava for you with out you having to do something.
This feels like a useful function, provided that it saves you a couple of faucets and ensures that you simply monitor your workouts with a bit extra rigor than earlier than.
Whereas messaging, health and the brand new design are the primary new options of Put on 2.zero, the workforce additionally added a bunch of different smaller options throughout the board. Purposes can now immediately entry the community for instance, with out having to undergo a telephone. This implies apps can now be put in proper on the telephone, too. When you’ve got an Android Put on watch with constructed-in LTE help for instance (like LG’s newest Watch Urbane), you would now begin Spotify on the watch and stream music from the cloud proper to your Bluetooth headset with out having to convey a telephone alongside whenever you go for a run (although I might fear about battery life…).
That’s helpful, however the primary profit right here within the brief run is for iPhone customers, given that the majority Put on apps beforehand trusted the telephone for his or her full performance and that the variations between Android and iOS typically made this a problem.