Android Wear Marshmallow: Google Rolls Out Update to Wearable Tech

The wearable tech industry is quickly growing, as markets predict wearable devices will become as big as smartphones in the near future. Promising the same features, but with greater accessibility, here’s what you need to know about Google pushing Android’s latest Operating System update, Marshmallow, to its wearable devices.

The update, originally announced back in November of last year, began rolling out earlier this year. Let’s go over some of the key features Android 6.0 Marshmallow (API 23) is bringing to Android Wear.

The New Features Marshmallow Brings to Android Wear

The Marshmallow update offers Android Wear devices many handy new features, such as battery conservation when the device is not being used, a new permissions check that allows users the ability to grant permissions to selected apps, and updated date and time settings. Here is a list of the more expansive changes to Android Wear:

  1. Make calls and listen to messages with speaker support. Android watches with a built in speaker, such as the Huawei Watch and the ASUS ZenWatch 2, can now be used to make and receive calls over BlueTooth. Users can also listen to audio and video messages with apps like Glide.
  2. Send messages using voice command. While Android Wear has always supported voice command, you can now command your watch to send messages over apps, like WhatsApp or Google Hangouts.
  3. Navigate your Android Wear with new gestures. Users can now scroll up and down the card stream with the flick of a wrist, or return to the home screen with a shake. Gestures can be personalized through the settings menu.
  4. Keep track of important notifications with the new Google Now app. Receive reminders of birthdays, track packages or get updates on flight delays with the Reminders feature.
  5. Use Android Wear in six new languages. Devices are now available in Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Dutch, Polish, Indonesian and Thai.

Google also announced cellular support for Android Wear back in November, meaning users can enable mobile data on their wearables just like a smartphone.

Development with Android Wear Marshmallow

For the most part, all Android Wear products implement API 22, but as the Marshmallow update continues to be delivered to devices, these products will eventually run API 23. This means that app developers must ensure compatibility with both APIs until all devices have been updated.

Here are some thing to keep in mind while developing apps for Android Wear with Marshmallow:

  • Imagery can be easily tailored to different shapes. API 23 makes it easier to develop apps for round and square Apple Wear with the addition of round and not-round resource qualifiers. This allows developers to load images specific to the device, and can be used in combination with existing resource qualifiers, though these resource qualifiers still won’t work with API 22.
  • Speaker support offers new possibilities. With the new speaker support applicable with Marshmallow, developers can now add music and sound to Android Wear apps.
  • Intel x86 support is now available for Android Wear.
  • New Android Wear emulators for API 23 and Intel x86 allow developers to easily test devices. This can help ensure that apps work for all users and API combinations.

Take Advantage of Android Wear Updates

The wearable tech industry is rapidly growing, with more and more companies focusing their efforts on harnessing the popularity of wearables to grow their business. The Android Marshmallow update opens up many opportunities for this quickly expanding industry. If you’re conceptualizing creating a new app, or updating an existing one, reach out to us.