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April 22, 2015

Google counters Apple Watch threat with Android Wear updates

Smartwatch platform is updated with days to go till Apple Watch release.

By Alexander Sword

Google has announced a series of updates to its Android Wear interface.

Writing on Google’s Official Android Blog, David Singleton, Director of Engineering at Android Wear revealed new features for the platform which emphasise functionality.

This includes an update to Wear’s ‘always-on screen’, which allows apps to stay visible as long as the user wants them, as opposed to disappearing when the user’s arm is dropped.

Android Wear now also sports wi-fi support to increase the accessibility of the device. Other new features include the ability to scroll through news and notifications with a flick of the wrist rather than a swipe and the ability to start apps and send messages immediately by tapping the screen.

The updates come near to the official release of the Apple Watch, out on 24 April, which some predict will provide the same watershed in the wearable market as the iPad and iPhone did for the tablet and smartphone markets respectively.

There is also a new emoji function, allowing users to draw and send shapes.

"Over the past few months we’ve added lots of ways to express your style — from custom watch faces to a rainbow of bands," Singleton wrote. "Today we’re making Android Wear more helpful as well — getting you what you need, right on your wrist."

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He added: "These updates are coming to all seven Android Wear watches over the next few weeks, starting with the new LG Watch Urbane."

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