Android Wear App Update Has Begun Rolling Out

Android Wear 2.9 Unread Notification Indicators

The Android Wear 2.9 app is now rolling out to compatible devices.  The update, which was announced last month, brings new notification dots to watch faces as well as improved glanceability to notifications, particularly those with long titles.  This update is to the phone app itself which, in turn will trigger an OTA update for your wear device.

Interestingly, my Ticwatch E was already running the latest Wear 2.9 build for watches prior to my phone app being updated this morning.

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Android Wear Google App Update Brings Fix to OK Google Detection

OK Google in Android Wear

An update to the Google app on Android Wear has resolved a significant bug with the OK Google detection on wearables.  The issue was that if you had OK Google detection enabled on your watch, overall performance of the watch would be impacted.  Watches were either laggy or they would stutter through things as you navigated the watch interface.

This seems to have been fixed with the 7.18.50 release of the Google app for Android Wear.  According to Android Police, once you have this update, you should be able to turn on the OK Google detection and not impact the overall performance of your watch.

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Android Wear 2.9 to Bring Oreo Style Unread Notification Indicators

Android Wear 2.9 Unread Notification Indicators

Today the Android team in Google released a new Android Wear SDK and emulator update for developers.  The new tools bring the SDK to version 2.2.0 and with it come several new watch face elements to the platform.

Those elements are aimed to be in the next consumer version of Wear, version 2.9.  Perhaps the biggest news of those new face elements will be unread notification indicators that can be coded into the watch faces.

Notification is a vital part of the Wear experience. As a result, starting from the next consumer release of Wear (version 2.9.0), a dot-shaped indicator will be displayed by default at the bottom of the watch face if there are new, unread notifications.

Developers of watch faces will have several options on how to implement the new feature.

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Android Wear Update Brings Visual Improvements and Accessibility Improvements

Android Wear 2.8 Update

A new update to the Android Wear app is rolling out in the Play Store today, bringing some visual improvements as well as improvements for accessibility users.  The update to the app is version 2.7.0.180439970 which will then have build 2.8.0.181612071 to send to your Wear watch.  Once you get the new app update, you’ll need to also perform an update on your watch itself.  You should have a notification that there is a new update to the Android Wear app on the watch itself.

As for what is new, there are improved typefaces and fonts in this build.  The aim of these is to improve glanceability (i.e. readability) when you glance at your watch.  Also, the base theme for your watch’s menu will appear noticeably darker.  This is likely a part of the effort to improve glanceability.

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The Tech & Apps That I Use Every Day

Acer Chromebook 14

One of the most common questions that I get asked, both here on the site, as well as by friends and family has to do with the hardware and software I use every day.  It is a fair question and one that people ask out of both curiosity as well as doing a “stare and compare” with their own tech.

I’ve always said that you need to use the right technology that works for you.  That may be an Android Phone or an iPhone.  That may be a Windows PC or a MacBook Pro.  Whatever the technology, it has to get the job done for you and for me, this list of hardware and software, works for me.  I encourage readers to look into what I use to see if it fits their needs but at the end of the day, it is a personal use case as to whether it will or will not.

I’ve broken this article into two parts.  The first is the primary hardware that I use each day with the second focused on the apps that I use on them.  The apps could be on my phone, my tablet or my Chromebook and I’ll note that as I go along.  As for hardware, I’ll cover what I use every day as well as other devices I use from time-to-time.  You’ll note that very little of what I have is new and that’s on purpose.  I tend not to buy the latest and greatest because I, like most of you reading this, are looking for value in my purchases or I use things for a long time before replacing them.

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Android Wear is Great – Right Up Until You Have to Use The App

Android Wear app for Android

A few weeks ago, I started wearing an Android Wear watch once again, the Ticwatch E.  I started wearing for the review of that watch but I quickly found that with the 2.x version of Wear, combined with solid hardware, that it was a great overall experience.  I’m a fan of this watch and I’m a fan of all that Android Wear, version 2.7 on my particular watch, has to offer me.

But as far as Wear as a platform has come, the app for Android is a horrible experience.  It may well be one of the most forgotten app that Google makes that is aimed at mainstream use by consumers.  It is a frustrating, half baked experience that Google needs to address if they have any hope of making the platform great.

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Review – Mobvoi Ticwatch E – Seriously Good at an Amazing Price

The Mobvoi Ticwatch E

Let’s be honest:  It is difficult to justify a smartwatch.  Yes they are helpful and handy and with things like Android Wear 2.0, these devices on your wrist have certainly become even more user friendly.  Perhaps the biggest justification on an Android Wear watch is the cost.  There are a lot of watches that are at or near the $300 mark and that, for something people just aren’t sure they will use, is hard to stomach.

Then there is the other end of the spectrum.  There are smartwatches out there that are less than $200 but, as is often the case with technology, you get what you pay for.  Many of these watches haven’t and won’t be upgraded to Wear 2.0 and their overall design and build quality is less than ideal.

That, to me, is what makes the Mobvoi Ticwatch E so fascinating.  It is a watch that runs Android Wear 2.0, has an upgrade in the works for Android Oreo, is fast, has GPS built-in, a heart rate monitor, and has a great 44mm display.  Add to that it is comfortable to wear thanks to the soft silicone wrist band – which you can interchange – and extremely impressive battery life.  It’s the complete package and the best part?  It is under $130.

A few weeks ago I was sent the Mobvoi Tichwatch E to review and I have to say, it has rekindled my interest in Android Wear in general.  This is a great smartwatch and it is hard to beat for the price.  Here’s my review.

A couple of assumptions before reading the review after the break.  I’m assuming in this review that you are familiar with Android Wear as a product (it is Android running on smartwatches) and the Android Wear app for your phone.  I won’t be cover those elements in the review but if you have questions about them, feel free to drop a comment at the end of the review or contact me via the Contact page.

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