Google announced today that it would not be releasing the final version of its Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch platform this year, but did release its third preview of the platform for developers alongside that news with a promised fourth iteration before the end of the year.
Google steps up after staying reasonably quiet for awhile about Android Wear 2.0
Google has chosen discretion and patience today when it comes to Android Wear 2.0, despite Apple’s willingness to recently introduce watchOS 3 alongside the Apple Watch Series 2 earlier this month.
We’ve long known that smartwatch sales were lagging by over 30% as consumers waited on what they believed would be the Apple Watch 2. That said, Apple’s seen its market share shrink from over 70% to just under 50% in roughly the same year those sales sector sales declined.
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That understanding could have allowed Google to step in but the company, again, would rather see more feedback from developers before releasing the new Android Wear 2.0 to the public.
Despite the announced delay, Google did add its Play Store for Android Wear 2.0 today, which allows users to download, watchfaces and apps directly to the watch without being reliant on a phone for the first time.
Additionally, today’s update allows iOS users to download third-party watchfaces and apps on Android Wear watch, but full-access to the Play Store (which is planned) is not available for iOS users.
The Play Store is available to users connected by Bluetooth, cellular network (if offered) or Wi-Fi, but paid purchases will still require the need for a paired smartphone for now. Google plans to eliminate this need prior to the final release of Android Wear 2.0.
Additional features with this developer release
Voice assistant use is now installable on the Huawei Watch and the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, permissions have been made easier and more. While that may not seem like much, Google pointed out that the next developers release will promise to wow those who use it and will make great strides forward before the offficial release of Android Wear 2.0 in early 2017.
While it won’t help smartwatch manufacturers ahead of the holiday season, it may help them in the long run that Google has decided to take its time.