Interest in smartwatches may have cooled quite a bit, but Google is plugging away on its Android Wear 2.0 platform, due to be released to the public early next year. Today, it is releasing a new developer preview of Android Wear 2.0 that adds a number of new features and restores some of the functionality that was in earlier versions of the platform.
The most significant new feature is support for one-click Google sign in on the watch. In a blog post announcing the new feature, Google says that "users can tap a button on the watch that opens an authentication screen on the phone." The watch app can then authenticate a login with servers directly. This feature will be available on Android Wear for both iOS and Android.
Other developer-focused features include in-app purchase support for Wear apps and the ability to promote a Wear app through the Play Store on other devices.
Google has said that this preview program for Android Wear 2.0 provides a way for it to develop the platform and adjust it before its final launch, and this version includes changes based on feedback from developers. The biggest change is the return of the ability to swipe notifications and apps away like in earlier versions of Android Wear, instead of requiring a press of the watch’s hardware button to go back. This should alleviate some of the confusion when using Android Wear 2.0, which I’ve experienced while using the preview.
Additionally, support for Android Wear 1.0 apps has returned to the Wear 2.0 preview, so testers can install legacy apps on their watches again. Google encourages developers to transition their apps to the new system which allows watches to install apps directly instead of relying on a paired smartphone to do so.
The Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview 4 is available to download and install on the Huawei Watch and LG Urbane 2nd Edition LTE now. The final version of the platform is expected to see a public release sometime next year.