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Everything we hope to see in the Android Wear 2.0 update

Despite repeated reports that smartwatches are dead, we know for a fact that Android Wear is about to get a massive refresh. Rolling out alongside Google's Wear 2.0 update are two new watches meant to act almost like the Nexus program of old, and we know several manufacturers will be following up quickly with new hardware of their own. With new hardware and new software, Android Wear as we know it is being rebooted.

The big questions now lie in our expectations. What do we as Wear users want from this new generation of watches? Here's a lap around the Editor's table with all of our thoughts!

Andrew

LG Watch Urbane

Android Wear has a bit of an identity crisis, and I hope that the launch of Android Wear 2.0 helps spur manufacturers to lock in and put out some compelling hardware that can meet a variety of needs. Though external case designs of Android Wear watches have differed, they're all basically the same: a too-big watch with clunky bands and very little feature differentiation.

Going forward I hope companies can bring in some variety with smaller, thinner watches, as well as mid-sized watches that skip out on trying to do everything to focus in on the core features people use these watches for. This new era will hopefully introduce a better variety of offerings to fit more needs and styles, though I know the business models of these companies may not be compatible with hitting niches inside of an already small market.

Jen

Android Wear

While I'm really excited to have longer battery life and Assistant on my watch, what I really want to see are smaller watches. I am a teensy human, and having a watch that actually properly fits me without looking like a child playing dress up would be amazing.

I'm also pretty stoked about the activity trackers. I'm terrible at remembering to open up my activity apps before I start working out, and if what we saw at Google I/O is true, this won't be a problem for me anymore.

Jerry

Gear S3 Classic

I want to see watches that look better and feel better while I'm wearing them.

I have been in situations where being able to discreetly check notifications was a plus. I think we all probably have. But in general, I've found that there isn't much reason for me to wear a smartwatch. I have my phone in my pocket no matter where I am, and when I wear a watch it's because I like the way it looks on my wrist. And I don't mean it looks better than other options like my Huawei Watch does. I mean I like the way it looks. Everyone wants things that look good, right?

I know it's hard to pack everything into a watch to make it smart, then put a big enough battery in it to keep it running. I'm hoping new processors and smarter software that is easier on battery life means someone can make a smartwatch that doesn't look like a smart watch. Samsung got very close with the Gear S3 Classic (it's not necessarily a size thing), so I have hope.

Flo

Flo Android Wear

Someone give me a reason to wear Android Wear. It's been a few years since they've come into existence, but I'm still struggling to find a reason to take my Asus ZenWatch 2 out of its drawer.

Here's the problem with Android Wear: Google and its partners have failed to convince me, the consumer, that it's worth buying one for any reason other than it's a way of showing allegiance to the Android brand. I want seamless interconnectivity between my phone and my watch, but I also want a watch that doesn't try too hard to cram everything my smartphone does into a 1.5-inch display. Features like Google Assistant and Android Pay are certainly worth looking forward to, but they fail to solve the problem of why I'd wear a computerized wristwatch in the first place.

Alex

Alex Android Wear

My first wish is for the watchmakers themselves, not Google. Just as Android Wear has adopted some of Samsung's Gear features in the 2.0 release, manufacturers should steal Samsung's rotating bezel idea for rotating through notifications and menus. It's more convenient than blocking the screen as you swipe and would allow for some neat design flourishes.

From a purely software perspective, I've already written at length about how I think smartwatches, including Android Wear, need to do fewer things and then do them better. Focus on the essentials, make notifications awesome, and everything else can just be gravy.

Russell

Russell Android Wear

Bring on the watches that last me more than a single day! With the new Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor and denser batteries, we should see thinner watches with one day of life and thicker watches offering two full days. I want to leave the charger at home, especially if the charger is one of those ridiculous pin things.

I'm also looking forward to Assistant on my wrist, but only if it's available without needing to press a button. I'd even be happy with a gesture to activate Assistant if an always-on mic isn't good for power consumption.

Ara

Ara Android Wear

I'm more than ready for Assistant on my wrist, but more than anything, I want Android Pay on my wrist. I've had an OG Moto 360 that's been bootlooping intermittently for the last six months, and the only reason I refuse to upgrade yet is the lack of tap-and-pay. We've seen NFC in a number of watches, including in leaks of 2.0 devices, and Apple and Samsung already have tap and pay on their wearable platforms. It's time for Android Wear to catch up.

Beyond that, I'm hoping that with full-fledged watch apps comes more finessed controls for media apps. Even before Android Wear, even before I was an Android nerd, I had a singular vision for wearables: controlling my music. I could fast-forward and rewind my iPod Video's click wheel inside a folio case in my pocket with frankly disquieting consistency and accuracy. When I came to Android and Google Play Music, I had to give that up. Now, to fast-forward through 90 seconds of a 25-minute show or rewind 30 seconds to replay the sweet bridge that my coworker interrupted, I have to wake my phone, unlock my phone, open the music app, and seek as desired. I want a click wheel on my wrist. Or at the very least, I want a button in Android Wear that can let me rewind and fast forward in 30-second intervals.

Daniel

Daniel Android Wear

More than anything, Android Wear 2.0 has to show me things I didn't know I needed. I think it's a given that the platform will integrate Google Assistant, but what I really enjoyed about Android Wear's early forms was its occasional perfectly timed Google Now card. Give me that experience more consistently, and use the new watch's GPS and/or cellular connection to show me more accurate location data — and the contextual information around it — without having to rely on the slow Bluetooth connection from my phone.

I typically find that, aside from the push notifications mirrored from my phone, smartwatches are no better than phones at doing most things, and even as a companion to my phone, don't excel at anything particularly well. So start to use AI and machine learning to adapt what's shown at any particular time in a way that, because your smartphone is turned off in your pocket for most of the day, only a smartwatch can do. Google is well-positioned to offer a solution like this, but it really has to bring all of its separate pieces together.

Your turn!

Got some thoughts on what you want from the next wave of Android Wear? Share it with us in the comments!

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

29 Comments
  • Better battery life please for my future Android watches. Or the ugly LG Urbane I have lol. Btw... When did Android Central offer a monthly subscription fee to remove ads?
  • They did that with today's update.
  • Been like that for a few weeks on the beta.
  • I paid but wish it also included removal of sponsored posts. Really not that much of a difference for me and likely won't extend beyond the three months.
  • I don't see any ads except for sponsored ads in widget. No ad blocker or anything here
  • I actually like the Urbane 2. It looks more like a real watch.
  • I really like my Moto 360 2nd edition. Mostly for the notifications instead of looking at my phone. I have my display set to always on and I can last a day without issue. I just charge it every night, so it fits my lifestyle fine. I have multiple phones and wish it would be a lot easier to sync to new phones instead of having to reformat the watch every time though. My biggest concern is how the update to 2.0 will work. Will it be months before my Moto gets it or will it be a quick rollout? or maybe I won't even get the update like has been reported? you never know with Motorola/Lenovo.
  • How about the ability to pair to more than one device without having to factory reset every time I switch handsets? Is that asking too much?
  • Exactly! I have a Moto Z and a Nexus 5X. Sometimes I like to switch to the 5X to play with new OS updates and it's a pain to have to reset my watch.
  • The most annoying thing is having to go through the tutorial of how to use the watch every time.
  • Battery life would be the main wish for me. Something I have to babysit and charge everyday immediately loses its appeal. Beyond that, just focus on being a watch. Don't shoehorn duplicative features from the phone over to the watch. With Android Wear having an on device Play Store and keyboard, they've gone too far from my ideal.
  • I'm in the same boat as Ara; my OG 360 has been bootlooping for a while, and it's finally at the point where there's nothing I can do. I had to get a replacement G4 thanks to the touch issues (yeah, I know), and I tried to pair it; I can't even reset it at this point. So, to echo hgoldner#CB, I'd love to have Android Wear 2.0 allow us to pair another device without requiring a factory reset.
  • I hope 2.0 and the watches that are offered are more like what Samsung has provided with the Gear S3, but with better integration into the Google environment. I really like the way the Gear S3 looks and works and it seems to be pretty popular. I have a feeling I am going to be disappointed.
  • Ever set your phone down to charge, walk to the basement to do some laundry on the fringe of your connection and then try to set a timer/alarm on your watch?? Won't work, just spins. How about try to respond to a text message you just got with your voice in the same situation....it came in to my watch, I must be close enough for it to work, right??? Wrong. They need to on-board all the voice processing or at least as much as they can to improve response times and be independent from your phone. I highly doubt that 2.0 is going to fix this with standalone apps because you'll Juuuuuust be on the edge of that bluetooth connection and the watch will STILL want to use the phone to process and it had not yet connected to WiFi. That's honestly my only gripe. I love the Motov2 Sport, waaay better than the OG 360v1. (which mine is also dead as previously mentioned). Oh sorry, native EAP WiFi security so I don't have to use an app that drains my battery to use.
  • Rotating watch bezel a fitness focused software like fitbit but looking like watch while doing so as I want to wear a watch daily for any occasion android pay and to be able to reply to notifications without opening an app like on the Google pixel
  • Why the fitness software? It would be mediocre data at best. Never have understood that
  • Your hopes all basically boil down to "I wish it was a nicer looking Pebble." *pours one out for those we've lost*
  • True story.
  • Proper English? You cannot unpair "with" phone :p
  • Just buy a Samsung Gear S3 which does everything you hoped Android would do plus operates as a standalone phone when you forget to take your Samsung phone with you. Oh, did I mention Samsung Pay? Terrific app works with all credit/debit card swipe and NFC units. Wow your firends!
  • I was tempted but it's huge! It wouldn't even fit under my shirt sleeve. There are also plenty of complaints getting it to work properly with a non-Samsung phone, especially for SMS notifications.
  • Better gestures, I'd give anything just to snap my fingers to trigger assistant.
  • I have a Galaxy Gear 2 and a Galaxy GS2. Samsung really hit the mark for me w/ the S2. Perfect in every way. Comfortable, stylish and the rotating bezel (ohhhhh) ..anything we have to charge we want longer battery life to alleviate that. Surprisingly, I use my phone less since I wear the watch, which lasts about 2.5 days on a single charge. So other than just wanting "more" for the sake of wanting more...not much is really needed. As long as you can tell the time.... right?!
  • The S2 is Tizen though. Wish that they hadn't gone that route.
  • A way to disable the stupid app screen. I find most of the design changes to be absolutely horrible.
  • They say smaller, I say bigger. No small wrists over here
  • I stopped wearing my urban 2 after it was no use no ornament with no calls or texts since the update I now get notified but now the phone won't connect to the car kit and swap priority to car than watch while traveling, wish they would follow Samsung's steps never had an issue with any gear devices
  • I love all the new features coming out, but mainly I want a Moto360-esque watch (not gigantic, reasonably sized), better battery life, but one thing haven't seen much of is waterproof. I would love to see a waterproof (or highly resistant) that isn't one of the more gigantic watches that while is rugged and ready for adventure, is wildly gigantic/thick. I think this is where the Apple watch wins. It has all the features, while being reasonably sized and being pretty water resistant. You shouldn't have to take your watch off ever, unless it's to charge after a couple days of use.
  • Looking forward to Android Pay on the watch. With that, I might actually use Android Pay. Beyond that, I want Pocketcast able to play on the watch - so I can use Pocketcast to play podcasts when I go running - and sync up in the cloud. Beyond that, I am pretty happy with Android Wear. Do not mind charging up every day. As long as I can comfortably get through a day without charging, it is just not a burden to put the watch on the charger every night.