Android Wear may get interactive watch faces for even faster info

Google's smartwatch software could undergo even more interface changes, with greater emphasis on customization.

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Android Wear has undergone some drastic transformations since its launch one year ago, and the next update will reportedly continue that trend.

Citing unconfirmed documentation, Phandroid reports that Android Wear will gain interactive watch faces in an update next month, allowing for custom actions when users tap on the screen. For instance, users might be able to toggle between temperature and precipitation views on a weather watch face, or launch an exercise mode when tapping on a fitness-focused watch face. Basic clock faces could simply let users switch between colors and patterns by tapping.

If Phandroid’s report is accurate, this is marks another big change in how users navigate the Android Wear interface. Originally, tapping on any watch face brought up a voice command prompt. With Google’s previous update, tapping or swiping left brought users to a new menu, with faster access to the app launcher and contacts. The next update will reportedly associate tapping with the custom watch face actions, while requiring a sideways swipe to bring up the launcher.

In theory, this new approach could restore faster access to voice commands, but only for users that wanted it. Users who miss tapping once for voice commands could potentially download a watch face that offered a voice shortcut as its custom action.

According to Phandroid’s report, Google is also working on watch-to-watch communications, letting users share their heart rates or sketches. It sounds very similar to the Apple Watch’s Digital Touch feature, but may require a specific watch face. Phandroid also cautions that its documentation is “quite old,” so take all of these rumored features with a grain of salt.

Why this matters: Google has made a lot of tweaks to its software formula as Android Wear has struggled to gain traction. One of the big themes has been speeding up the interaction process, whether it’s through gesture-based scrolling, quick access to contacts, or glanceable information on the always-on display. Custom watch faces would be another step in that direction, giving users quick access to the information and apps they care about the most.

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