Google will reportedly issue an update to Android Wear in the near future to enable the WiFi chips latent in many of its partners’ smartwatches sold today.
While Android Wearables currently connect to host devices over Bluetooth 4.0 (hence the need for Android 4.3 and above), a future update could allow watches with the requisite hardware to receive updates from the internet, such as Google Now, with no phone companion. While Google has always said that Android Wear is a phone companion platform, a modicum of independence has always been in its blood. For example, the Sony SmartWatch 3 can track runs using its GPS chip with no smartphone in sight.
According to The Verge, the next Android Wear update is also set to revamp the way users access the many cards they currently have to use an alternate hand to scroll through. With a flick of the wrist (all smartwatches have accelerometers in them), the screen will reportedly alight and follow the angle of one’s wrist to scroll through active cards. This ensures that users can check notifications without needing a second free hand.
Finally, the update is set to make it easier to access apps installed on the watch. Right now, apps are relegated to a deep menu, or to voice prompts, which are often not feasible in public.
There’s no word on when Android Wear will receive its update — right now, it’s at version 5.0.2 — but since Android 5.1 just emerged for phones and tablets, we’d expect it relatively soon.