Google Inc. will update its Android Wear software for smartwatches to enable a hidden Wi-Fi feature as well as introduce a new gesture in an upcoming version, a report says. The timeline for the update is not clear, but it is expected to become available on all current Android Wear devices, including the Moto 360 and Huawei Watch.
The next version of Android Wear will enable Wi-Fi on smartwatches that have the necessary hardware, in case Bluetooth is not available, according to a report from the Verge. Citing an anonymous source, the site claims that Google Now cards and smartphone notifications will work over Wi-Fi even when a smartphone is not in range.
The wireless connectivity will help untether Google-powered smartwatches from their Android counterparts, especially in the case of apps like Hangouts and Gmail, which will allow users to read messages and check email without a smartphone present, as long as they have Wi-Fi.
The update will also allow Android Wear users to scroll through cards and mobile notifications with a flick of the wrist, instead of having to touch the screen with their free hand. Google’s wearable platform will also be changed to make it easier to access apps as well as contacts, the report said.
The minor update comes after Apple has announced its own Watch, which analysts suspect will take the majority of the smartwatch market, but actually increase Android Wear sales, as more consumers become interested in the product category.