Android Wear gets wide Marshmallow rollout, adds speaker and LTE support

Android logoThe Android 6.0 Marshmallow update for Android Wear is back. The update debuted on the disastrous LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE in November, but due to "image quality issues," LG pulled the watch from the market after only six days. The Marshmallow Android Wear update seemed to go down with the Watch Urbane, and the update went missing in action for the last two months. According to a post on the Official Android Blog, it's now back and will now roll out to "all Android Wear watches over the next few weeks."

Other than the update to a new base of Android, the new version of Android Wear adds the ability to send an instant message with your voice while specifying the service you want to use. For instance, it's now possible to command "OK Google, Send a WhatsApp message to Nathan: I’ll be right there." Google notes that you can currently call out Google Hangouts, Nextplus, Telegram, Viber, WeChat, and WhatsApp by name.

Android Wear gets wide Marshmallow rollout, adds speaker and LTE support

The other big update feature will require extra hardware—Android Wear now supports speakers. If you have a watch with a speaker, you can listen to audio messages and make calls directly from the watch. (There's no word on audio notifications, though.) Some watches currently on the market actually planned ahead for this and included speakers. Both the Huawei Watch and ASUS ZenWatch 2 (49mm) have included dormant speakers for instance, and with the update these should wake up and function.

Update: The Google Store description for the Huawei Watch mentions you can "hear an alarm" now. So that's at least some kind of notification chime.

Google doesn't mention it in the post, but the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE had a built-in LTE modem. It didn't allow the phone to be a standalone device, but it could pair to your phone over the Internet via LTE, allowing it to work in more places than the existing Wi-Fi pairing. The Android 6.0 version of Wear brought software support for the LTE modem, but LG's watch was the first and so far the only device with a cellular modem.

(Side note: All things considered, where does the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE now rank on the list of "Most Disastrous Product Launches Ever?" At least its highlight software update will see the light of day.)

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Android Wear, Google, smartwatch

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