Google was first off the block in the smartwatch race but then it fumbled while Apple sped ahead. Now, the search giant is finally releasing Android Wear 2.0 after many delays. (Android Wear being a version of the Android operating system designed specifically for smartwatches and other wearable devices.) Coinciding with the release of the updated OS, LG is launching two new smartwatches, called LG Watch Style and LG Watch Sport, that have been built in collaboration with Google.
What is new in Android Wear 2.0?
Every update from Google means that there is plenty of customisation available to the users. In this instance, Android Wear users will be able to make the watch faces more personalised by pinning contacts on the dial, calling a cab or checking the score of your favorite team with a tap on the watch face, among other things.
One big change that will make things more convenient is that the apps on the smartwatch will now be able to run remotely without requiring the presence of a smartphone in the vicinity to connect to. Users will also be able to go to the Play Store directly from the watch to search for and access apps. Google has released Android Wear compatibility for iPhone as well. The standalone apps will help iPhone users if they don't want to spend on the Apple Watch.
Google is also bringing its AI assistant, the Google Assistant, to these watches to enable people to search for more by voice. Users will also be able to respond to messages with pre-defined phrases and even with an on-screen keyboard. The dictation option is still present but that can take a frustratingly long time.
One core reason behind the Apple Watch's popularity is that it does fitness tracking really well. Taking a cue, with Android Wear 2.0, Google has increased the number of parameters being tracked in Google Fit. In the gym, weight lifting reps, push ups, and squats are counted.
Welcoming LG's new watches
As some might recall, at first the Apple Watch paled in comparison to the Moto 360. But it gained greater acceptability with the improved bands and a better finish. As of now, most Android Wear watches are still chunky. And, that includes the new LG Watch Sport.
With a 1.38 inch circular display protected by Gorilla Glass 3, the watch is big besides being packed with features. It has LTE compatibility to make calls and receive notifications without being connected to a phone. The Sport version also boasts NFC for Android Pay (which is not available in India) and GPS for better health monitoring.
The IP68 certified watch is water and dust proof, and internally, it runs Qualcomm's new wearable processor with a 768 MB RAM capacity and 4 GB of storage. It comes with a rubber strap that can't be removed. The LG Watch Sport is priced at $349.
LG Style is Sport's toned down and classier cousin. A leather exchangeable strap and a 1.2-inch display with a thinner body give it a more pleasing appearance. In this version, LTE, GPS and NFC are all missing. The RAM has been strapped down to 512 MB and battery capacity is just 240 mAh. The watch is priced at $249.
Both watches have a heart rate monitor and, interestingly, a rotating crown that helps people navigate through the watch. The ambient sensor in both versions is hidden under the screen so there are no flat tyres. LG Sports has two extra customisable buttons on the side as well.
It is hard to tell if LG's latest offerings are going to put even the slightest dent in Apple's smartwatch armour. There are certain drawbacks in both the versions that could have been covered with a watch that offered the best of both worlds.