Android Wear now officially supports standalone connectivity

It's about time, right? Well, maybe, depending on which side of the fence you're on. If you're of the opinion that smartwatches shouldn't be anything more than an accessory to your smartphone or tablet, then this new Android Wear feature might not make much sense. But if you believe that a smartwatch should be an independent mobile device in its own right, then you might welcome this news with glee. Android Wear finally supports cellular connections, allowing smartwatches to connect to the Internet and networks even when the smarpthone isn't around.

We could probably credit Samsung for getting the ball rolling here. It started with rumors of the Gear Solo, which was later announced as the Gear S. This Tizen smartwatch sported a SIM card slot so that it could connect to the Internet, send and receive messages, make and take calls, all without the assistance of a smartphone.

LG, ever the rival, would later on put out its own version of the independent smartwatch with the webOS-powered LG Watch Urbane LTE. Then last September, it followed it up with the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition, also bearing LTE connectivity as well as running on Android Wear. This left clues that Google's smartwatch platform would soon support such a feature as well.

That has finally come true with this announced. Android Wear now has cellular support. This means that even if Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections break off for one reason or another, wearers will still be able to use their smartwatches, like searching on Google or using apps. They can even receive and send messages and calls as long as both smartwatch and associated smartphone are connected to a network.

How the smartwatch and smartphone will juggle the latter feature will mostly depend on the carrier setup. AT&T's NumberSync is probably a prime candidate for this, but Verizon's Messages is also capable of doing it. As of now, only the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Ed LTE supports this feature, but next year's generation of smartwatches could also start flaunting SIM card slots as well.

SOURCE: Google