Google has today launched the latest update to the Android Wear OS, bumping it from version 1.3 to 1.4 (the companion app got an update in November, which tipped us off that this firmware update was on the way). Among other features, this version of the OS enables support for the speaker hardware that was previously discovered on the Huawei Watch and the ASUS ZenWatch 2…
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While it’s not exactly surprising considering the now-cancelled LG Watch Urbane (2nd gen.) LTE watch needed it to function, speaker support has a lot of implications and will open up new doors for apps on some of the newer Android Wear watches. Apps will be able to read your text messages to you, allowing you to better communicate while driving, for instance. You can also make calls over Bluetooth on these newer watches.
Screening calls from your wrist is a nice convenience that comes with Android Wear. Thanks to speaker support, you can now make and take calls over Bluetooth. And you can listen to audio/video messages with apps like Glide. All you need is a watch with a speaker, which today includes the Huawei Watch and the ASUS ZenWatch 2 (49mm).
Today’s update also adds support for sending messages with voice or touch through a plethora of new apps. This was a big deal when Google finally allowed you to do this with Hangouts, and now the company is touting the addition of WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, Telegram, and NextPlus support — although it was probably more work on the part of the apps to make this happen.
Also, today’s update brings new gestures for controlling your watch with one hand, battery life improvements, and support for six new languages: Mandarin Cantonese, Indonesian, Polish, Dutch, and Thai.
The full change log of the next version of Wear is as follows:
– Ability to play sounds and take calls on watches with a speaker
– Support for sending WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, Telegram, and Nextplus messages with your voice or via touch
– New gestures to control your watch with one hand
– Battery life improvements
– Language options for Mandarin, Cantonese, Indonesian, Polish, Dutch, and Thai
As with any Android update, version 1.4 (Android 6.0 Marshmallow, on API level 23) should be rolling out over-the-air over the next couple weeks. Newer watches — like the Huawei Watch, second generation Moto 360, and ASUS ZenWatch 2 — will probably be getting the update first, and it’s notable that LG seems to have the best track record of having its watches (the LG Watch Urbane and the G Watch R) updated in a timely manner.