Google’s Android Wear Update Takes on Apple Watch

Google’s Android Wear Update Takes on Apple Watch

Apple is getting ready to take a bite out of the smartwatch market with the soon-to-ship Apple Watch–but a new update for Google’s Android Wear may leave the tech giant feeling rotten.

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Android Wear, an operating system that is used in Google’s smartwatches, will allow users to leave their phones behind but still reap the benefits of using the watch, according to a report from USA Today. All that is required is some work beforehand to make sure that the phone is connected to Wi-Fi.

Re/code has one of the best explanations of how it works:

“As long as your watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network and your smartphone has a Wi-Fi or cellular connection, they’ll be able to talk to each other, even if your phone is at home and you’re at work. The watch will remember any Wi-Fi networks that you’ve logged onto from your phone (include password-protected networks). But if you’re trying to access a new network, that is one case where you would need to have your smartphone with you.”

It might seem an inconvenience at first, but if your phone already has access to Wi-Fi connected networks at, say, your gym, your office, your friend’s home, your local coffee house, among others, setup should be that much easier, or require one additional trip to each establishment with your smartphone to make the connection.

Then–provided passwords remain the same–your Android Wear watch could pick up communication from your phone, and you could utilize the wristwatch instead of having to lug around the growing personal devices.

According to The Verge, this will greatly increase the range of usability for Android’s smartwatches, which, like so many others, have been limited by the reach of a device’s Bluetooth capabilities or Wi-Fi networks. This step is another battle in the ongoing fight for smartphone supremacy between the two tech giants.