The Apple Watch, as the first units start shipping head, is facing serious competition, but not in the form of a new Android Wear smart watch, but in the form of a seemingly minor update for Android Wear. Although the Android Wear update seems insignificant, it brings forth a new way in which we can actually use smart watches, and thus appreciation from many Android Wear users and smart watch fans. With the most recent Android Wear update, the smart watches running the platform get Wi-Fi support and will work almost just as well with all apps even without a phone, as long as they can connect to a Wi-Fi network.
That’s an enormous plus in front of the Apple Watch, which has no way of working properly without being tethered to a smartphone in the meantime. With the Android Wear update, Google gets an enormous advantage over Apple and proves that the smart watches running its smart watch platform can handle much more than the Apple Watch can. With Wi-Fi support now embedded in all Android Wear watches, these wearables can now be used without having a phone tethered to them. The crucial thing about the feature is that the watch needs to have Wi-Fi built in, so those that don’t won’t magically have Wi-Fi because there’s hardware necessary in order to actually pick networks up and connect to them. The update also adds wrist gestures for scrolling between Google Now cards, too, as well as a new Always On feature for certain apps, complete with a low-power mode that won’t drain battery. Or at least that’s what Google says, we’ll have to put that to the test.
Fact is, that if your watch is connected to Wi-Fi and your phone is somewhere where there’s internet, you can use the two separately, no matter where they are geographically. That’s an excellent feature to have for current watches and upcoming Android Wear watches, and it seems like the wearable industry is going down the right path when it comes to Google-supported gadgets. That leaves us with the question: when is the Apple Watch going to catch up? The Apple Watch can function only on the same network as the phone, while the Android Wear update rules that necessity out. If you’re wondering what watch the Wi-Fi feature will first work on, it will actually be the LG Watch Urbane.