The biggest update to Android Wear since last year’s launch no longer requires a brand-new smartwatch.
Android Wear 5.1.1 started rolling out to Asus ZenWatch owners a few days ago, and is now arriving on LG’s G Watch and G Watch R, according to Android Police. A post by Google in the Android Wear product forums says the update will roll out to all devices in “the coming days and weeks.” Previously, the update was only available on LG’s new Watch Urbane.
Android Wear 5.1.1 is a substantial reworking of Google’s smartwatch software. It makes apps and contacts much easier to access without voice commands, and it lets apps use the same “always-on” mode as watch faces, so users can glance at things like to-do lists and maps in a low-power mode. For messaging, users can draw emoji instead of using voice or picking from canned responses. The update also includes adjustable font sizes, an optional lock screen for when the watch loses its phone connection, and wrist gestures for flicking through the notification list.
For some smartwatches, the update will activate previously-dormant Wi-Fi chips, letting the watch sync with a smartphone over the Internet even when the devices aren’t connected by Bluetooth. Google says this feature will work on the LG Watch Urbane, Moto 360, Sony Smartwatch 3, and Samsung Gear Live. While LG’s G Watch R also has a Wi-Fi chip, it’s not being enabled in this update for some reason.
To get Android Wear 5.1.1, users should make sure the Android Wear companion app is up to date in the Google Play Store.
Why this matters: Although Google announced the update last month, at the time it wasn’t clear when existing Android Wear users would get it. The wait appears to be over for the most part—and just in time to make Wear a more formidable competitor to theApple Watch and Pebble Time.
LG is pushing out a software patch for their LG G Watch, and the reason is a bit stranger than usual. It seems some users are reporting a buildup of residue on the charging pins — something that has no effect on the device performance, according to LG. In an aim to keep people happy with the G Watch, LG is sending out a software patch for the problem.
So, what is that problem? The battery current is causing the terminal pins not he bottom (rear?) of the G Watch to discolor. According to LG, it’s not a problem at all, but they’ve heard the complaints:
Recently it has come to our attention that a small number of G Watch devices have been reported to have developed discoloration and residue buildup on the terminal pins located on the back. While completely safe and unlikely to affect charging, LG will be rolling out a maintenance release over the next few days that will disable the current when the G Watch is not in the charging dock. The maintenance release will be rolled out automatically over-the-air to all G Watch owners. We thank G Watch users for their patience and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Obviously, LG’s smart watch will still charge when you attach it to the charger, and will (hopefully) have the same battery life. It seems to be as simple as powering down a few pins while you’re wearing it. It’s worth noting there have been no reported issues of people having burns or other skin irritations while wearing the G Watch.
As with Android, customization will be a reality for Android Wear and the smartwatches that run it, with a response being given to the oft-asked question: will Android Wear support watch faces from third-party developers? The answer is yes.
The information comes Google’s Wayne Piekarski, who posted confirmation on his Google+ account early this morning. “Customization has helped Android thrive, and the same will be true for Android Wear,” he said. He went on to say that Google is working on a custom watch face API.
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The reasons, says Piekarski, is that without an official API, making a watch face that is high quality “takes a fair bit of tweaking”. This is because of the interactions the watch face has with the stream and ambient mode, the latter of which includes rendering the watch faces in a different way.
With an official API, making custom watch faces will be easier and will ensure they’re as visually appealing as they are gentle on battery life. The promised changes are said to be coming soon, but developers are warned some won’t be available until “we migrate Android Wear to the Android L release later this year.”
If you are anything like me, every time when I get a new Android phone or tablet I would root it and flash my favorite custom ROM. That is where the fun starts for me personally owning Android device. Now the first Android Wear custom ROM is out; Gohma ROM is specifically made for the LG G Watch. As of this writing it is still on preview releases.
The custom ROM features improved battery life, reduced lag on screen transitions, and increased vibration intensity for those who need stronger nudging to take notice on alerts like myself. The developer also claims the ROM improved overall performance.
Same as flashing custom ROM on an Android phone or tablet, you will need to unlock your LG G Watch’s bootloader and enable USB debugging. Obviously rooting voids your warranty, so proceed with care; especially with this being preview release.
More specifications and details of the LG G watch have leaked ahead of its official launch. The smartwatch from LG which is powered by Android wear will have a 1.65 inch 280 x 280 display. The specifications which have been leaked on Twitter by @upleaks state that the smartwatch will run on Qualcomm APQ8026 processor and have 4GB storage along with 512 MB of RAM. With 400mAh battery, the watch will run for 36 hours on a single charge and will require 2 hours to charge fully. In terms of connectivity, the watch support Bluetooth 4.0 which will help to connect with your smartphone. The watch will have dimensions of 37.9 x 46.5 x 9.95mm and will weigh in at 61 grams.
The uncertainty of when we’ll see the first Android Wear smartwatch released can finally stop, with LG announcing both a release date and price for their upcoming LG G Watch.
Being released in Europe in June, the LG G Watch will be priced at €199 or around $275, but will probably be more like $199 when it is released in the US.
The LG G Watch will come with a 1.65-inch screen and 4GB of internal memory in both black and gold.