Google releases Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview 4 with Seamless Authentication, In-App Billing, and More

Google releases Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview 4 with Seamless Authentication, In-App Billing, and More

Those of us with an Android Wear smartwatch aren’t reluctant to share the opinion that the operating system could do better.

Currently, the most commonly used functions of Android Wear smartwatches revolve around notifications, fitness tracking, or weather and time keeping. The more industrious among us would argue that the possible uses of an Android Wear smartwatch is limitless thanks to the power of Tasker plug-ins such as AutoWear. But for the average user, it’s difficult to justify the added expense of a smartwatch.

Indeed, smartwatches have been struggling in the market and given the fact that Huawei, Motorola, and LG declined to upgrade their smartwatch line-up during the second half of 2016, it’s difficult to see how those numbers will climb. Though Asus bucked the trend and released a compelling upgrade to its ZenWatch program, it appears that Android Wear has a difficult road ahead.

Fortunately, Google itself has yet to give up on the fledgling Android platform. The company has pinned its hopes on a massive upcoming update to Android Wear. Initially announced during Google I/O 2016, the Android Wear 2.0 update promised to introduce support for standalone Wear applications, a full keyboard, and a much more streamlined user interface. Future Developer Previews of Android Wear 2.0 have introduced highly anticipated features such as customizable wrist gestures as well as smart replies and a Wear-based Play Store. Today, Google is continuing to enhance its smartwatch platform with the introduction of Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview 4.


Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview 4

In order to enhance the standalone application experience on Android Wear 2.0, Google is introducing support for a seamless two-factor authentication experience, in-app billing, cross-device promotion, and the return of swipe-to-dismiss.

First off, Google will allow Wear-based apps to tap into existing credentials on the paired smartphone so users signing into apps on their smartwatch will forego the pain of entering their username and password for various services. Developers can utilize the OAuth API for Android Wear to allow watch apps to authenticate with server side APIs directly. Apps requesting Google Account credentials will feature one-click sign-in, bypassing the need to access the smartphone entirely.

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Seamless Authentication on Android Wear 2.0. (Source: Google)

Next, Android Wear 2.0 will now allow developers to implement in-app purchases directly into their Wear app. Users will not have to defer to smartphone control to authorize purchases. Instead, the user can enter a 4-digit Google PIN to immediately authorize a purchase.

Developers who were wary of developing separate Wear applications because the user experience on a standalone watch app would be sub par will no longer have to worry. Google is introducing two new APIs, PlayStoreAvailability and RemoteIntent, to help users navigate their device to the Play Store, or any custom URL of their choosing, to install the smartphone component of their Wear app.

Google has been listening to developer feedback during the course of the Developer Previews, and will be bringing back a key Android Wear 1.0 feature that it had scrapped in the last preview build. For some odd reason, Google decided to change the swipe gesture behavior in the third Developer Preview. The company instead opted to make the power button work as a back button, which developers could intercept. However, the previous functionality which allowed swipe gestures to dismiss activities will now return.

Finally, apps built with Android Wear 1.0 in mind can now be installed on devices running Wear 2.0. When installing an app on your smartphone with a Wear 1.0 component, the system will throw a notification asking if you would like to install the Wear component. If declined, the user can opt to install the app at a later time by navigating the Wear-based Play Store for a section called “Apps you’ve used.”

Google has also outlined a few more minute changes to the Wear 2.0 platform, but that covers the most major changes to Wear 2.0. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not the final release of Android Wear 2.0 will make Android Wear a compelling platform for smartwatch manufacturers. But introducing new, highly anticipated features and listening to developer feedback is certainly a nice start.


Source: Android Developers Blog

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