Google reveals new features, sensor support arriving in Android Wear updates
It’s no surprise that IFA 2014 is shaping up to be the nexus of the smartwatch universe – for the next few days, at least. We’ve got new models on the horizon from multiple manufacturers all ready to be featured at the expo itself, not to mention Motorola’s expected news about 360 sales, nor Apple’s possible introduction of its own iWatch just a few days later. And while that group of devices will span manufacturers, physical sizes, and software platforms, Android Wear models look like they’ll be making up the lion’s share. A couple Google execs just sat down with CNET to discuss what’s next for Android Wear, revealing some new abilities and sensor support due in the months to come.
We’ve been thinking about sensors on Android Wear models since hearing back in July that the Moto 360 would be the first watch on its platform to incorporate an ambient light sensor, and now we get word that one of the sensors to be supported could be a GPS receiver.
Beyond that, Android Wear is also tipped to pick up (overdue) support for directly pairing with other Bluetooth accessories. Specifically, Bluetooth headsets will let users listen to media stored right on the watch itself. Both this and the GPS would help expand Wear’s usefulness when employed out of range of its parent smartphone.
There’s no firm ETA for either, but Google says that multiple updates to Wear are due before the end of the year, so both may be landing in just a matter of months. Moving forward, Google plans to keep embracing new sensor technologies, allowing Android Wear manufacturers to incorporate pretty much any practical sensor they want in their smartwatch hardware. There’s already talk about barometer-based elevation sensors, but this is really up to the manufacturers at this point, and what sensors they see as adding value to their wearables.