Android Wear Adds New Hands-Free Features

Make Calls from Your Wrist, Use Voice Messaging and More

Google (Official Android Blog)

Android Wear, the Google-made operating system powering smartwatches like the Moto 360, the LG Watch Urbane, the Huawei Watch and many more, is receiving some updates that make it better and easier to use when you're on the go. Keep reading for a look at the latest hands-free features, along with information on when to expect this update to make it to your Android Wear Smartwatch.

New Gestures

In its blog post on February 4, the Android Wear team explained that navigating the wearable interface will now be a lot simpler thanks to some new gestures. For example, to scroll up and down within an Android Wear card ("cards" are how the operating system presents bits of information), you simply have to flick your wrist. 

To expand a card, you complete a pushing motion; to bring up apps you execute a lifting movement; and to return to your home screen you shake the device. The idea with all of these gestures is to make it easier to use your smartwatch one-handed, and without having to take your phone out of your pocket or bag to find the information you want.

Several Applications Work with Voice Messaging

While Android Wear has featured voice commands for some time, it's been limited to the user asking questions and getting answers from the software. Now, you can use the voice functionality for messaging within a variety of apps. These include Google Hangouts, Nextplus, Telegram, Viber, WeChat and WhatsApp. 

The formula for using this functionality should be familiar to most Android Wear users and users of Google in general. You'd simply say, "OK Google send a Google Hangouts message to mom: I'll call you back later." This is another way that Android Wear is becoming more hands-free-friendly, since you won't need to use both hands to text your message when you can just speak it.

Make Calls from Your Smartwatch

Android Wear has always let you screen calls from your wrist by displaying incoming communication, but it's now moving one step beyond by letting you make and answer calls when you smartwatch is connected to your phone over Bluetooth. This comes thanks to new speaker support, and while you may not be completely on board with taking such calls in public, it's a nice, Dick Tracy-esque, futuristic touch.

The recently added speaker support also means you can listen to audio and video messages on your Android Wear smartwatch. Of course, this requires having a watch with a speaker, and not all of them do. Some examples of compatible devices include the Huawei Watch (available in some snazzy new designs as of last month) and the ASUS Zenwatch 2. And, now that Android Wear supports speakers, smartwatches that are yet to come will probably feature this hardware so they're compatible with the latest technology.

When Will Your Android Wear Watch Get the Update?

If you already have an Android Wear device and are anxious to try out these newest features, note that they should be rolling out within the next few weeks. According to the Android Wear blog post, the latest functionality will be coming to brand-new watches like the Casio Smart Outdoor Watch and the Huawei Watch for Ladies in addition to watches that have been on the market for some time.