Android Wear smartwatches lead a long parade of Android device updates this week

g watch r ambient

The G Watch R's black-and-white ambient mode is relatively bright—another nice perk in an all-around solid watch.

Credit: Jon Phillips

Android Wear is got a needed boost in utility this week with some helpful new features, including support for watches with built-in GPS and the ability to play music directly from the watch to Bluetooth headphones. The 4.4W.2 update is starting to hit the smartwatch universe, with the Samsung Gear Live the latest to get the notice.

Android Wear updates are just the tip of the iceberg, with many devices getting some update love this week. Things should pick up more as we get closer to the launch of Android Lollipop

Each week we gather up all the major software updates for the biggest devices; phones and tablets on U.S. carriers (and unlocked phones, of course), wearables, and round them all up so you don’t miss a thing.

Making sure your device installs the latest software is a good housekeeping practice, ensuring you have the latest features, close security holes, and squash those pesky bugs.

Android Wear

Samsung Gear Live: The 4.4.W.2 Android Wear started showing up for Gear Live owners on Friday. It has all Google-crafted goodies, such as hiding notification cards and playing music locally when paired with Bluetooth headphones. This particular watch unfortunately doesn’t have a GPS chip, so you won’t get any of the location-aware newness.

If you get impatient waiting for the update, flash it yourself by grabbing it from XDA Developers.

Moto 360: Along with its Android Wear update to 4.4W.2, the Moto 360 got a bunch of other tweaks and fixes this week, namely an automatic shut-off of ambient mode when the battery hits 15 percent and better adjustment to the room brightness.

There’s a lot of other smaller adjustments that should improve the experience, so if you want the full changelog head on over to Motorola’s site.

Unlocked devices

Nvidia Shield Tablet: This is a minor bump to 1.2.1 for the gaming tablet, adding in improved WiFi performance on the 5GHz band, performance optimizations for encrypted devices, and a fix to other intermittent issues. Game on.

Verizon

HTC One M8, E8: Two of HTC’s models are getting the much-ballyhooed Eye experience software. It includes screen sharing, Split Capture, Voice Selfie, Crop-Me-In mode, and improved face tracking. No periscope included.

T-Mobile

Galaxy Tab 10.1: This super-sized tablet is getting Android 4.4.4, which has a few security and stability fixes beyond its current version of 4.4.2. It’s another good sign that Lollipop won’t be far off for such devices, with Samsung staying pretty busy on the update front.

Galaxy Tab 4: Samsung’s smaller tablet is also getting some love, with T-Mobile sending out an update that pushes it to Android 4.4.4. It’s a pretty minor bug fix update, but it surely can’t hurt to make sure you’re on the latest version.

HTC One M8: At least they got this in before Lollipop’s release. This model of the M8 is also getting bumped up to Android 4.4.4 - just in time for Android 5.0 Lollipop to be ready. If HTC wants to stay competitive with all those new phones rolling out, the One M8 should see Lollipop sooner rather than later. 

Sprint

LG G2: HD Voice is a pretty neat feature, so G2 owners will want to grab the ZVE update from Sprint that improves call clarity. There’s also a Google security patch bundled with the update. Sprint says you can force it by tapping on System Updates and then pressing Update LG Software.

Samsung Galaxy Mega: The original oversized phone is getting a minor update, with the NJ1 patch sending out support for HD voice, international WiFi calling and the obligatory security fixes.

Lollipop for the Galaxy Note 4

Samsung doesn’t have the best record when it comes to timely Android software updates, but things may be different this time around.

 

The tease is a good indication that it won’t be an excessively long wait for Lollipop on Samsung’s popular phablet. Given that the company has already been testing it out on a Galaxy S5, we can only assume the same has been in place for the Note 4.

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