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Android Wear set to get a lick of Lollipop too - first details revealed

Tom Morgan
12 Nov 2014
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Material Design set to invade smartwatches as well as smartphones when Lollipop update arrives

When Google announced its Material Design philosophy alongside Android 5.0 Lollipop, it said the colourful and animated design ethos would eventually make its way to all Google products, including the web and Chrome OS. It has now emerged that this roadmap also includes Android Wear, Google's smartwatch-centric operating system.

A new report from Phandroid has revealed details of the Android Wear Lollipop update ahead of an official announcement from Google, suggesting it will gain a host of new features as well as a visual upgrade. The webiste had already established that the Android Wear companion app would be getting a Material Design makeover, but today confirmed it would also enable watch Battery and Storage pages, providing at-a-glance overviews of how much space you have left on your smartwatch and what's draining its battery on an app-by-app basis.

You'll soon be able to change your watch face directly from the companion app, rather than having to do it manually via the watch itself, and the release will finally see an official watch API made available for developers. This will let third party watch faces use every available sensor built into the watch and allow notifications to appear directly on the watch face. Naturally, there will be a further selection of official watch faces included with the update.

One of our personal niggles with the current version of Android Wear was the inability to undo dismissing a notification - once you've swiped it away it's gone forever. Thankfully that looks like it will be a thing of the past with Lollipop, as a swipe upwards will present an 'undo' option.

Other welcome improvements include a brightness toggle, which is built into a redesigned options menu when you swipe down from the top of the screen. You'll be able to toggle between standard, Theatre and Sunlight settings; Theatre dims the screen for when you're in a dark room like a cinema, and Sunlight boosts brightness to make it easier to read in direct light.

There will also be a new magnification option for the visually impaired, and improvements to the 'OK Google' voice functionality with a reorganised list of commands, based on the ones you use the most.

Lollipop might not be the upgrade that makes Android Wear a must-buy, but it seems to be fixing the issues we had with its initial release - if Google keeps it up a smartwatch could soon be as indispensable as your smartphone. Lollipop should be arriving on Android Wear devices in December.

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