Just one day after the Apple Watch unveiling, Google may be hinting about how it plans to give its own Android Wear platform a boost.
The Verge cites an inside source who says Android Wear watches will soon get Wi-Fi support, which means they could perform most functions like Google searches and deliver notifications should the Bluetooth connection to your phone drop. Most of the available and forthcoming Android Wear watches, like the ones we tried on at Mobile World Congress, have the hardware for this built in already and would just need a software update to activate such features.
Another tease is gesture control, which would let you cycle through your cards by flicking your wrist, instead of always needing to swipe on that tiny screen. One of the Apple Watch’s most lauded features is the digital crown, which navigates the interface and zooms in and out without the need to touch the screen.
Lastly The Verge’s source says some UI tweaks are coming, focusing on easier access to your apps and contacts. This is a pretty big shortcoming in Android Wear, as finding your apps requires a voice command or navigating a convoluted menu.
The biggest missing piece not addressed by the leak is the gap in the two app ecosystems. Apple showed off an impressive list of apps, many of which aren’t on Android Wear even though Google’s wearable platform has been around longer.
Why this matters: While Android Wear isn’t necessarily competing with the Apple Watch, as both of these platforms are driven by their respective ecosystems, Google can’t sit idly by while Apple wows the public and uses its massive fleet of stores to win people over to iOS. You could be tempted to switch to the Apple ecosystem when your Apple Watch-wearing friend is able to unlock their hotel room, pay for lunch, and summon an Uber car from their wrist. Those Google Now cards and custom watch faces just won’t feel that special anymore.