Google I/O 2018 was held last week and shortly afterwards, the search giant released a second developer preview for Wear OS. The first preview of Android P for the wearable platform was outed for developers and manufacturers on April 1, and a whole list of smartwatches that received the Wear OS name following the transition from Android Wear were confirmed to get the update once made available publicly. We don’t know when that will happen, but a more stable preview build is rolling out to a few smartwatches today.
Like the first preview, preview two contains only minor improvements to the software that really needs more than just a few features and touches to catch up with competition. The primary focus by Google in this build is on ‘Actions on Google‘ support through the Google Assistant. There’s also an enhanced battery saver mode to help your watch survive many days on a single charge.
Google does not have hardware of its own to test the software and is allowing Huawei Watch 2 owners to sample the platform update and send in feedback for the next release. Speaking of release, we don’t know whether or not this will be the last preview build. No other smartwatches are compatible with the preview build, but could get the public release expected soon. The software is extremely buggy, so even if you own one of the newer Huawei watches, it’s not recommended that you update unless you’re not dependent on the watch for routine functions. The process also involves flashing so it’s a bit cumbersome. If you decide to proceed, just know that you might be sacrificing battery life and performance by doing so. Back up your data before diving in.
We already know about the version’s native Dark Theme, restricted background activity for conserving battery life, and other power consumption features. But there are new upgrades as we mentioned. The various actions one might perform using new AoG could be ordering food through a service or calling an Uber through the Google Assistant. This has been available on mobile phones, and will soon make way to watches. Best of all, it’s open source for creators to implement their own services. The other feature, enhanced battery saver mode, will disable the smartwatch functionality, rendering your watch into a basic watch. The touchscreen is disabled as well as all radios, apps, and watch face complications. There’s also a feature that switches to Wi-Fi when Bluetooth connection is lost. Some small features include smart actions, fine tuning of apps for desired performance, and improved smart reply. Google has not gone into much detail about these and they don’t work that well in the preview, so its hard for us to explain their functions. With the next update, we expect a bump in performance and reliability.
The release is expected to be a system update rolled out over-the-air. This could mean more fragmentation among Wear OS smartwatches in terms of the software version they run since many won’t get Android P. We do have an idea of some yet to release smartwatches that could debut with the software including Pixel Watch, LG Watch Timepiece and a new Huawei Watch. No release date for this update is yet to be set.
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SOURCE [Android Developers]