Google’s Android Wear platform is going to gain more powers on a continuing basis, thanks to frequent significant updates, the Android team has revealed. Upcoming features planned for Android Wear in the immediate future include support for GPS on devices, instead of having to rely on connected smartphones, and the ability to work with other Bluetooth wearables in potentially interesting ways.
Previously, Google had mentioned that it was introducing an API for third-party watchfaces, and the team reiterated that it was coming along with the two new features mentioned above in a new interview with CNET. The GPS feature will require that Android Wear smartwatches have GPS chips built-in, which early hardware does not, but it will mean that you can run apps like activity trackers and leave the smartphone at home, while still charting your run.
As for its new communicative powers, Google is being more vague about what exactly this will entail, but they did offer up the example of an Android Wear device talking to your Bluetooth headset directly, meaning you can play back music from your watch directly instead of requiring a smartphone to pair with the headset. This, again, will help it become more autonomous, expanding the feature set of Android Wear wearables when not in Bluetooth range of their host phone or tablet. Direct Bluetooth pairing powers opens up a range of possibilities, however, from controlling smarthome devices to supporting direct input from keyboards.
The Android Wear team plans to ship “several” updates to the platform before the end of the year, including one this week that will improve navigation and some of the voice control features. Overall, the team is aiming for a fast and furious update pace for the Wear platform, as the “simpler” nature of the watch devices vs. smartphones and tablets makes that kind of schedule possible. This will hopefully allow Google to avoid the kind of fragmentation it’s been criticized before on phones and slates, too.
Android Wear is about to be able to stand more solidly on its own two feet, and that’s good news for developers and OEMs building for the platform. The platform is off to a slow start, but Google seems committed to putting in the time needed to help it slow-burn it’s way to success – or it wants to do everything it can to give that impression ahead of Apple’s big wearable reveal, which should happen next Tuesday.