To the surprise of pretty much no one, LG’s recently-launched Watch Urbane 2nd gen. LTE runs the latest version of Android Wear, based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. This version is certain to be rolling out to the current line of Android Wear devices soon, and as was revealed in the recently-updated Android Wear companion app, the update will bring some features to other watches that are currently exclusive to the new Watch Urbane. Now, Google has published some support documents detailing the two major features coming in this version: new wrist gestures, and support for hardware speakers…
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New wrist gestures
The ability to scroll through cards is obviously still there, but version 1.4 adds a few more gestures. Among these are the ability to take action on a card, open the apps menu, pull down the settings shade from the watch face, cancel an action before it’s completed, and return to the watch face from within an app. You can read the full details at the Android support site.
Here’s how to take action on a card:
To see more details or take an action
Hold your arm in front of you and quickly push down, and bring it back normally to the original position.
Pushing down on a card will take you to that card’s first action. Pushing down a second time will select that first action, which is the most common action. There is not a way to select or perform an action after the first action using solely gestures.
To go back
Hold your arm in front of you and quickly pivot up, and bring it back normally to the original position.
And here’s how to open the apps or settings menus from the watch face:
To open the apps menu
When on the main watch face screen, hold your arm in front of you and quickly push down, and bring it back normally to the original position.
To pull down settings from the watch face
When on the main watch face screen, slowly turn wrist away from you then quickly flick back towards you.
And finally, this is how you use the shake/jiggle gesture to go back/cancel:
To return to the watch face
Hold your arm in front of you and shake or jiggle your wrist out and in quickly a couple of times. You can use this gesture to go back to the watch face or cancel an action before it’s completed. Learn more about how to use your watch.
The second major feature coming in Android Wear version 1.4 is support for hardware speakers to “play sounds” and take calls.
Speaker support looks to have more use cases than that, though, with what Google calls audio feedback. Only some watches have hardware speakers (the Huawei Watch and ZenWatch 2 are the notable watches to have support besides the new Watch Urbane 2nd gen. LTE), but it appears that these devices will be able to read back time and notification cards to the user. Interestingly, Google is currently packing this feature as an accessibility setting found under “Audio Feedback”.
Audio Feedback reads the time and notification cards, including the actions you can perform on them. By using Audio Feedback along with voice actions, you can perform tasks such as sending and responding to SMS messages and making and receiving calls from your watch.
After you’ve turned on Audio Feedback, you’ll find that it’s actually pretty powerful. Basically, the feature will read anything and everything that appears on your watch’s screen, including the time and date, the contents of notification cards, the contact information of any incoming call, and more. Beyond making and receiving calls, though, it’s not yet clear how the hardware speaker will be used by the average consumer. I’m hoping that Google Now will read out the answers to queries.
At the time of this writing, Google has yet to announce Android Wear 1.4’s rollout to devices currently on the market, so the above information only applies to the LG Watch Urbane 2nd gen. LTE at this time. The 1.4 companion app had the change log enclosed, though, and it started rolling out earlier this week — so the new firmware should start rolling out to devices like the Huawei Watch, Moto 360, and others very soon. Other features coming in 1.4 are support for more messaging apps, battery improvements, and language options for Mandarin, Cantonese, Indonesian, Polish, Dutch, and Thai.