Android Wear 2.0 preview adds single sign-in, IAP, sanity

Android Wear isn't dead. It's just long delayed. That seems to be the message Google is sending these days, after not so few people called it out for dragging its feet with the smartwatch platform. After acquiring the Cronologics team behind the Alexa-empowered CoWatch, Google has finally released another development preview of Android Wear 2.0, now at its fourth, with some admittedly interesting new features aimed at revitalizing what is becoming to be a highly doubted market segment.

One-click authentication and in-app billing are the two biggest feature drops in dev preview number 4. The first makes it easy to sign-in to services and app. Well, not exactly completely easy. You tap on a button on an Android Wear smartwatch which will then pop up an authentication screen on your smartphone. You then make some taps, at least two, on you smartphone and voila! You're authenticated on your smartwatch as well. So, yes, you'll still need to do the sign in from your phone, which sort of contradicts Android Wear 2.0's "standalone" nature.

You won't need a phone to buy stuff on your watch, however. You can simply tap to buy new game levels or new watch faces. Permission is granted via a 4-digit Google PIN, so no passwords needed. Nor fingerprints, since that's still unavailable on smartwatches.

Besides those two, another huge aspect of this dev preview is that it brings a level of sanity back to Android Wear. Users, for example, will be able to once again swipe to dismiss notifications and cards, an action that they are most likely already used to on their phones. Even bigger is the "sanitization" for developers. The last Android Wear 2.0 preview introduced a new standalone system for smartwatch apps, no longer tied to their smartphone packages. Google has stepped back a little and is making Android Wear 1.0 bundled apps compatible with Android Wear 2.0. Users will be asked if they want to install a companion smartwatch app when they install the smartphone app. Developers will also be able to open smartphone apps via links on the smartwatch and advertise smartwatch apps on Google Play Store on the phone.

We are inching closer to Android Wear 2.0's final release, and "inching" is really an accurate description. It won't come until early 2017, at least if all goes well. Who knows how many manufacturers will still be onboard by then.

SOURCE: Google