Google is rolling out an Android Marshmallow update for its Android Wear operating system, the software used to run smartwatches like the Huawei Watch and the Moto 360. The company revealed on its blog Thursday that the 1.4 update for Android Wear would come to all watches in the coming weeks with a slew of new features.
The Android Wear update features expanded voice activated messaging support, which means a user can say "send a WhatsApp message to John" to send the message through the third party app rather than through Google's default messaging app.
Android Wear 1.4 also introduces new wrist gestures to navigate the smartwatch. Users can now shake their wrist to return to the homescreen, as well as a variety of other motion activated functions. These new wrist gestures are activated in the "Settings" screen, and come with a tutorial to help new users get acquainted.
Speaker support will also be activated for watches that come with a speaker, like the Huawei Watch. Users will finally be able to make hands-free calls, hear notification alerts and blast audio messages aloud in public places, all from the wrist.
The update also brings LTE cellular connectivity to watches that support it, but so far only one Android watch has ever done so. The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, which was pulled from the market less than a week after launch, was the only Android Wear device that supported it. LTE support baked directly into Android Wear may however persuade manufacturers to add cellular compatibility to their own devices.
The platform has made great strides as Samsung and Apple work to perfect their own watch software. In Samsung's case, the company's watches run an operating system known as Tizen, while Apple has developed its own watchOS that integrates deeply with the iOS operating system.