Just a few months after launching the latest update to Android Wear 6.0, Google announced a complete overhaul for the smartwatch OS and showcased Android Wear 2.0 during Google’s I/O event yesterday. The new version comes with major improvements in the UI and material design.

Since Android Wear was released to the market two years ago, Google has rolled out several updates that haven’t really brought any major changes to the OS. Now, it seems that the company has taken the time to properly focus on Android Wear and has launched Android Wear 2.0, which will be available to end users this fall.

The biggest change in Android Wear 2.0 is definitely the ability for applications to communicate directly over the Internet via Bluetooth, WiFis or cellular networks, rather than rely on tethered phones or cloud synching.

With this new feature, Google has solved the problem that some users with Android Wear on iOS had, as they weren’t able to access certain applications. The Standalone Apps feature allows your smartwatch to connect to your phone even if it’s far away or turned off. By removing the requirement of accessing Data Layer APIs, apps would offer the same functionality regardless of whether the watch is connected to an Android or iPhone.

New UI and material design improvements

Google has also made a number of UI changes and implemented a new notification design and app launcher, as well as a new watch face packer for switching between themes more easily. The UI now comes in a dark color and makes better use of round displays.

Android Wear 2.0 also boasts a new material design for wearables, specifically new components in the navigation and action drawer. Input methods were improved, users can now input text remotely, and notifications that use remote input for voice replies will automatically support the new methods.

Google also included a new notification template and has made some improvements to the Google Fit platform. Changes to Google Fit will greatly benefit app developers, as well as users since apps will be able to detect when users begin to walk, run, bike and the appropriate apps will automatically open.

Android Wear 2.0 is already available as a developer preview, but hardware options are quite limited at the moment. End users should expect the new Android Wear 2.0 to start rolling out to their smartwatches this fall.

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