Android Wear is receiving an update with support for interactive watch faces (and WiFi support in LG’s G Watch R!). The new functionality allows developers to detect taps on their watch faces to reveal more information.
“Today, we’re launching interactive watch faces, making it easier (and more fun) to stay connected, right from your wrist,” Google said in its blog post about the update. “Now, with just a tap, your watch face can change its design, reveal more information, or even launch a specific app.”
One example of a Wear watch face Google chose to highlight already taking advantage of the new capabilities is Under Armour, which will cycle through different fitness data — step count, calories burned, etc — as the user taps on the screen.
Another interesting one is Together, a watch face that “lets two people stay close throughout the day” by allowing the two Wear users to share things like photos and emoji to each other’s screens.
Previously, a single tap on a watch face would launch into the Wear app launcher, and switching out or modifying a watch face’s design required holding down on the watch face for a few seconds. The extremely limited real-estate a smartwatch screen offers meant that developers and end-users alike (read: me) were always having to make compromises in terms of what kind of data they wanted quick access to. Or in some cases, a watch face developer would try and cram a bunch onto the screen at once by reducing font and element sizes, consequently making it hard to see anything at all.
It’s beyond our imagination what kind of dynamic, interactive watch faces we’ll see reach Android Wear as a result of this update, but we’re quite excited for it. Smartwatches are special in part because their screens aren’t static like the analog watches of yesteryear — there can be separate screens of equally useful information a single swipe or tap away. Wear 1.3 seems to be recognition of that.
Google says these interactive watch faces will be rolling out in an over-the-air (OTA) update to all Android Wear watches “in the coming weeks.”