by Swapnil Bhartiya

Watch out Apple: Android watches can now make calls, get smarter voice commands

Feb 05, 2016
LinuxOpen SourceSmartwatches

Google is pushing Android Wear updates that bring some great features to Android watches, including making phone calls, more gestures, and smarter voice commands.rn

Google is bringing some exciting new features to Android Wear, the most notable of which is the ability to take and make phone calls when tethered with a phone. And, in addition to making calls, users can also listen to audio/video messages with apps like Glide.

(The bad news is that you need a built in speaker in your watch to be able to do so and while some of the upcoming Android Wear devices, including the Huawei Watch and the ASUS ZenWatch 2, have speakers, the existing range of Android Wear watches don’t.)

Google is also adding new gestures to the operating system. In addition to using a flick of the wrist to scroll up and down your card stream, “starting today you can also expand a card, bring up your apps, or return home to your watch face with a push, lift orshake.”

The Android Wear updates are also making the voice commands smarter. Previously, when you said “Ok Google send message to Jennifer,” it used Hangouts to send the message. But now you can tell Google which app to use to perform a task. Like this: “Ok Google, send a WhatsApp message to Jen: I have finished the story.”

Google will be pushing OTA updates to Android Wear devices in the coming weeks. But if you want to hear your watch talk, you need to buy a new one.

As for me, I own both Android watches and Apple Watch and ultimately settled on Apple Watch for the ability to make phone calls directly from the watch, the simpler UI and more native apps. With updates like this, that may change.