Given Google’s recent rebranding mode and a few pieces of news trickling out over the past week, it seemed safe to expect some key updates for the operating system formerly known as Android Wear. But the company only really mentioned Wear OS in passing at yesterday’s keynotes.
Google’s push to offer an open, Android-like experience for wearable devices has stagnated a bit in recent years, along with the category itself — but the company is pushing out some key updates for devs this week at I/O. Over on the Android Developer blog, the company is highlighting some key features for developer preview 2, which launches this week.
The biggest news here is the addition of an “enhanced battery saver mode.” Battery life is certainly one of the chief concerns on these devices, thanks to their relatively small size. While in the new mode, the device will sport a “power efficient watch face,” while shutting off radios, the touchscreen and tilt to wake — essentially all of those features that make your smartwatch smart. A quick press of the side button will show the time and a longer press will restore functionality.
Also new here is support for Actions on Google, which should make Wear devices more useful when it comes to working with third-party smart objects. That’s a nice addition that brings the products up to speed with the rest of the Google Assistant ecosystem.
This all comes a couple of days after an LG Wear OS watch appears to have hit the FCC. None of this is earthshaking, but at the very least, it shows that Google’s not entirely given up the wearables ghost.