Big Android Wear update to bring Apple Watch features

Android Wear is getting another big update next month. Photo: Google

Android Wear is getting another big update next month. Photo: Google

Google is planning another big Android Wear update that will deliver a number of new features Apple Watch users are already enjoying, according to a new report. Among them are interactive watch faces and the ability to send doodles and emojis to friends.

“Google’s next platform update for Android Wear plans to bring tap gestures to the most prominent user interface on your smartwatch and launch a brand new watch to watch communication method,” reports Phandroid.

“Thanks to the information provided to us, we’re able to get an early first look at these upcoming features.”

Like most smart devices, Android Wear is controlled mostly by touch gestures. Users can swipe up to see notifications, swipe down to access the quick settings menu, swipe left to open the launcher, and tap and hold to switch watch faces. But there are others Google hasn’t yet taken advantage of.

For instance, some third-party watch faces support a single tap. Because this isn’t officially supported by Google, it can cause system problems — but that is expected to change in the next Android Wear update.

Google will use the single tap gesture for new interactive watch faces, claims Phandroid. Like on Apple Watch, faces will be able to display small, informational widgets or “complications” for things like the weather and steps taken, and users can hit them to launch corresponding Wear applications.

Google has already reached out to Wear developers, and they are “actively working on watch faces to support this new functionality,” the report adds. When the update rolls out, Google will showcase interactive faces in a new section on the Play Store.

In addition, Google is planning to add new methods of communication with a feature called “Together.”

“Stay together by sending messages directly to your friend’s watch face,” Google’s description reads. Strings found in the updates code hint at the ability to send Apple Watch-like doodles, photos, emojis, stickers, and messages.

What’s strange about the Together feature is that it seems to be restricted to a single watch face at this time. It’s thought developers may have to update their faces to support the feature, but this will likely cause confusion among users who can’t work out why they can’t receive messages with different faces.

Phandroid points out, however, that the information it has is pretty old now, so it’s possible Google has already addressed this concern.

Another change of note in this update is Wi-Fi support for the LG G Watch R.

Google originally planned to release this update this month, according to the report — but “the timeline has shifted to sometime in August.”