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. Thanks to the information provided to us, we’re able to get an early first look at these upcoming features. Google originally scheduled the launch for July 28th, though we’re hearing the timeline has shifted to sometime in August.
Android Wear currently accepts four different swipe or tapping gestures. You can swipe up to navigate notifications, swipe left to open the launcher, swipe down to open the quick settings shade, and long press to open the watch face picker interface. Interactive watch faces will introduce a brand new single tap gesture that can be used for aesthetic changes, launch activities, inline expansion, and more.
But wait, aren’t there already watch faces on the Google Play store that accept the single tap gesture? Yes, there are. Currently, developers are using a hacked method for bringing about this gesture by accessing the service window or using invisible buttons. These methods are unsupported by Google and can cause system conflicts. With the launch of interactive watch faces, Google will now officially support the single tap gesture. However, to make these work, Google plans to introduce a change to the current method for activating the launcher.
Since the debut of the platform last year, users have been able to activate the voice command menu by simply tapping their watch face. It seems that the additional swipe gesture that was added a few months ago with the Android 5.1.1 update was a preemptive move to deprecating the single tap to the launch functionality. In the near future to start the launcher you’ll need to swipe from right to left. Tapping your watch face will no longer cause the launcher to activate once this update rolls out.
In the documentation available to us, Google provides four example use cases for the tap gesture. These include an aesthetic changes to watch faces, state changes, revealing more information, and launching an activity.
A tap can cause a sequence of visual changes, as though the user is cycling through options for their watch face.
A tap could be used to toggle between different states on a watch, such as the weather.
A tap on your watch face could be used to reveal more information, such as a fitness graph.
And lastly, a tap could be used to open a new activity, where the activity would slide in from the right side of the watch face.
Google has reached out to developers and they are actively working on watch faces to support this new functionality. When this update does publicly launch, Google plans to promote interactive watch faces in a brand new collection on Google Play. If you’re a developer and looking to add a powerful new experience to your watch face, the new API should only be several weeks away.
Next up, Google plans on launching a new communication feature for Android Wear. Apple Watch users can send heartbeats and doodles to each other and it seems Google wants to follow suit with the next Android Wear update. Android Wear users will be able to send each other messages, stickers, emojis, and doodles in a new watch to watch communication method called Together. Take a look at the strings below:
“Stay together by sending messages directly to your friend’s watch face”
<string name=”wc_doodle_message_received”>%1$ s sent you a doodle with %2$ s</string>
<string name=”wc_photo_message_received”>%1$ s sent you a photo with %2$ s</string>
<string name=”wc_emoji_message_received”>%1$ s sent you an emoji with %2$ s</string>
<string name=”wc_sticker_message_received”>%1$ s sent you a sticker with %2$ s</string>
<string name=”wc_message_received”>%1$ s sent you a message with %2$ s</string>
What’s most puzzling about the Together feature is that it seems to be restricted at this time to a single watch face. It’s not known if this feature will launch as a system application or stay tied to this particular watch face. The former would be very unintuitive as users would have to have the watch face selected to send and accept messages from one another. The information available to us is quite old and with Google’s rapid development, there’s no telling what will eventually make it into production, if at all.
Lastly, if you happen to own an LG G Watch R, you’ll be happy to know that the upcoming update does enable WiFi capability. After the Android 5.1.1 update, many LG G Watch R owners were quite upset to find out that their watch was left out of the WiFi upgrade. LG later stated that a future update would add the functionality. It looks like the next OTA update will keep LG to their promise by finally enabling WiFi.
That’s all we have for now. We’ll keep you posted if more information surfaces on the upcoming Android Wear release. Are you exciting for interactive watch faces or watch to watch communication? Let us know in the comments.