Android smartwatches will not get the Android Wear 2.0 update this year. Google announced today that it will extend the preview program for its smartwatch software until early 2017. The company also released the third developer preview of Android Wear 2.0, which is currently available to download. Instructions for getting the latest preview on a compatible device are detailed on the Android Developers website.
In an Android Developers Blog post, Reto Meier, a developer advocate at Google, states "We’ve gotten tons of great feedback from the developer community about Android Wear 2.0––thank you." He encouraged users to "keep the feedback coming by filing bugs or posting in our Android Wear Developers community, and stay tuned for Android Wear Developer Preview 4."
The latest release notably brings Google Play to Android Wear and will now allow users to browse and install apps directly on their smartwatch. The preview includes support for searching for apps by keyboard, voice or handwriting. In addition, consumers can switch between multiple accounts, take part in alpha and beta tests and update or uninstall apps directly from their watch.
Meier states, "In Android Wear 2.0, phone apps are no longer necessary. You can now build and publish watch-only apps for users to discover on Google Play." He continued “We asked developers like you what you wanted most out of Android Wear, and you told us you wanted to make it easier for users to discover apps,” and specifically “right on the watch itself."
Other improvements include the new 'Wearable Recycler View', which helps correctly display vertical lists of items on round displays, improved customization for inline action notifications and smart replies for messaging notifications.
Google released the second developer preview for Android Wear this past July at its annual I/O conference. This update comes after Huawei recently announced that the company will be moving to Samsung’s Tizen OS to power its smartwatches, while Apple unveiled its updated Series 2 smartwatch running watchOS 3 last month.