Skip to main content

Android Wear update goes live: WiFi and emoji support included

Google has announced the Android 5.1.1 update will go live later today, carrying several of the new features coming to Android Wear 1.0.

LG G Watch and G Watch R owners are already getting the update and Google is pushing it to all compatible watches.

The major feature on Android Wear 1.0 is WiFi support, allowing users to leave the smartphone at home without losing access to notifications and other smartphone features. Google has beaten Apple to the punch on this, with the Apple Watch still needing the iPhone for almost all of the set-up and notifications.

Wrist gestures allow the user to set up different gestures to open applications or perform a task. Google is limiting the amount of gestures for the time being, but users will be able to customise the performed action.

Emoji support is also available, allowing users to draw a face on the screen and send it, instead of hunting through a third-party keyboard for a specific emoji. Apple added this at the start, allowing people to draw custom images or even send their own heartbeat.

Google is also adding a black and white mode to Android Wear, which may help conserve battery life. Currently, Google Keep is the only app to support this feature, but Google is pushing it to Maps and other services in the near future.

At the same time the Android Wear update goes live, Apple is also planning to update the Apple Watch with a few new features (opens in new tab). It looks like the two providers are trying to mimic the launch dates, although who is copying who is still unknown.

David has been a technology journalist for over six years, covering a wide range of sectors. He currently researches apps, app sectors and app markets for Business of Apps, and has written for ITProPortal, RTInsights, ReadWrite, and Digital Trends.