If you were hoping your Android Wear watch would get the big 2.0 software update before the holidays, you’re going to be disappointed. In a blog post announcing the availability of Developer Preview 3, Google let it slip that the update has been pushed back to next year.
At the end of the post detailing the new developer preview, the company slipped this in: “We’ve decided to continue the preview program into early 2017, at which point the first watches will receive Android Wear 2.0.”
Google Play on Android Wear
It’s not all bad news. Developer Preview 2 brings a huge new feature to Android Wear 2.0: the Google Play store.
The Play Store on Android Wear lets you browse or search for watch apps (by text or voice), download, and install them without using your phone at all. In fact, if you don’t even want the phone app, you can install only on your watch.
Google’s making the phone entirely optional in Android Wear 2.0. Developers can create and publish watch-only apps that don’t even have a phone component.
The latest developer preview includes other features for developers, like improvements to complications and smart replies in the messaging notifications. This, of course, is on top of all the other new features of Wear 2.0.
It’s still a royal pain to install the Wear Developer Preview, compared to those for phones. You need either an LG Watch Urbane LTE (2nd edition) or a Huawei Watch. You need to unlock the bootloaders. Then you need to download the system image and flash it manually. More info on the process for developers can be found here.
It’s a drag to see this big, important update to Google’s watch platform pushed back from its fall release, but with Android Wear seeming to struggle lately, it’s more important that Google really get this right. It needs to be slick, useful, usable, and highly polished. The extra development time should help with that.