New Android Wear 2.0 Preview with Smart Replies, Watch App Store — Main Release Delayed until 2017

New Android Wear 2.0 Preview with Smart Replies, Watch App Store — Main Release Delayed until 2017

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There are both good and bad news for Android Wear owners today — well, the good news are mostly reserved for a few lucky watch owners. But in short, a new Android Wear 2.0 Preview is available for download and flashing.

The new Developer Preview 3 brings some rather big additions, including the additions of a Google Play Store on Android Wear. This allows you to easily find and install apps directly on the watch, which synergies perfectly with the watch-only app capabilities of Android Wear 2.0 You can browse recommended apps in the home view, search for apps, and then install them on your watch, as well as update applications. This makes app management easier, and you can install the watch-app portion of a service so you don’t need both the phone app and watch app, as the former are no longer necessary. Developers can now build and publish watch-only applications!

An on-watch store might sound clunky, but Google surveyed developers and ran studies that concluded users repeatedly looked for a way to discover new applications right from the watch. Developers can publish their apps on the Play Store for Android Wear by following these steps, making sure the Wear 2.0 apps set minSdkVersion to 24 or higher, use the runtime permissions model, and are uploaded via multi-APK using the Play Developer Console.

Android Wear 2.0 Dev Preview 3

There are also a few new, useful features and optimizations, with a prominent one being improvements to complications for developers, a new UI component for developers to optimize vertical lists for round displays, and Smart Reply. That’s right, Android Wear now generates Smart Reply responses for MessagingStyle notifications. These are generated by an on-watch machine learning model based on the context of the notification (no data is uploaded to the cloud to generate responses). Sadly, said notification style with images posted by standalone apps don’t show images in the notification (bug), and there is no support for notification groups.

Android Wear 2.0 Dev Preview 3

You’ll need to flash the system image onto your watch and download the beta version of the Android Wear app on your device. Developers can also use the emulator to test their applications if they don’t have a watch to test on. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this preview, because the real deal is not coming for a while: Google now says that they’ve decided to continue the preview program into early 2017, and that the first watches will receive Android Wear 2.0 around that date. This means that the Android Wear 2.0 update won’t come until next year for most of us, at the earliest. This also likely means we won’t see Pixel watches this year.

Google has not mentioned any official reason for this delay in the release timeline, except the receipt of feedback from the developer community. And the delay of Android Wear 2.0 likely isn’t good news for smartwatch OEMs either, as they would now have to settle with either the existing stable release, or question the future of the platform entirely. There are no new successors to existing smartwatches coming in from the big names, and even Huawei is in talks to jump ship to Tizen. Existing stakeholders who have invested in new smartwatches this year, like ASUS with its ZenWatch 3, are also not likely to be happy with how the timeline has taken a turn for the worse. All in all, considering the current position of Android Wear in the market in light of its competition, the delay in release must have been a very strong decision to take, just before the upcoming holiday season.

What are your thoughts on the delay in Android Wear 2.0 release? Also, how was your experience with the Dev Previews of Android Wear 2.0 so far? Let us know in the comments below!