Android Wear 2.0 Hands On – What’s New? [Video]

This update is HUGE

Android Wear has been around for a while now, but in the time since its announcement, we haven’t seen hardly any changes in the visual department. With the recent announcement of Android Wear 2.0 however, that changes. We get a new look for cards, apps, and the system as a whole. Let’s take a look at what’s new.

In Android Wear 2.0, one of the first things that will jump out at you is the new design for cards. They adopt a new flat, full screen look and personally, I absolutely love it. Colors for each card are matched to the app. One huge change however is that to access a card’s actions, you’ll need to tap on the card itself rather than swiping to the right. However with that change you’ll get more room for actions. This is a change that it will definitely take time to get used to, but I think it might actually be for the better.

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Quick reply has also gotten some new features, including quicker access to the voice and emoji replies, as well as canned responses. There’s also the keyboard, and while I’m still not sure how I feel about it, it is better than I expected it to be.

A mixed bag however is the new method of changing watch faces. Previous holding down the watch face would open the screen to change it, but now a simple swipe to the left or right, on any screen, will activate this. Of course this does exclude apps, but if you’re in a notification or on the watch face, you’ll be changing the face with a swipe. The watch face selection screen also offers a “favorites” section to place your most used watch faces in, a great way to keep clutter down.

Speaking of the watch face, you’ll also notice that Google has pre-loaded the developer preview with two new “Elements” watch faces. These are designed to give us an example of the new “complications”. These allow developers to give users the ability to access data from any application on their watch on the face. So rather than being limited to fitness, calendar, weather, and other types of data on previous versions, now you can add shortcuts or data from any app.

Another big change is in the swipe down menu. Rather than having a paginated view here for several different quick toggles, you’ll now just have a single screen including shortcuts such as sound, airplane mode, brightness (FINALLY), alarm modes, and a shortcut to the settings app. You’ll also see your battery levels when you first swipe down and LTE connection status if your watch is capable of doing so.

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On the watch face, you’ll also notice that there is no more “OK Google” prompt. Worry not, the keyword has not been disabled, but you will also be able to access voice functions by long-pressing on the button.

One thing that I’m very sad to report however is that it appears Google has ditched the “Brightness Boost” and “Theater Mode” functions. While the first won’t be missed as much thanks to the addition of the brightness toggle, theater mode will be sorely missed.

Overall, that’s all we’ve seen that’s new in this update. Of course apps will be updated, some with standalone functionality, and Google will likely make minor changes over the coming weeks, but for now, this is what we’ve got. What do you think of the new update? Let us know in the comments below! Also if you’re interested in installing this preview on your Huawei Watch, I recommend following this tutorial from Rootjunky.