Improvements in Android Wear 2.6

Related: Upgrade Android Wear 8 Oreo


New functionality

Android Wear 2 is a worthwhile upgrade, whether keeping your existing watch or buying new. Android Wear 2 fixes many issues and limitations of Android Wear 1.

Android Wear 2.6 adds:

  • vibration customization (normal, long, double)
  • connection status display, with up/down activity arrows on whichever connection method is being used (LTE, WiFi, or Bluetooth/BLE).
  • auto-size text, based on how much text is in the notification
  • better rejection of accidental side-swipe and long-press

Switchable Bluetooth

Android Wear 2 allows easy toggling of the watch Bluetooth and Bluetooth LE (BLE). This means the watch doesn’t search for the phone over BLE, saving battery. This could be useful for users that leave their phone deliberately behind for jogs and the like. I don’t see a need to do this, but it’s nice to have the control.

Find my Phone–over LTE

If you have a large home or office where you could be out of Bluetooth LE range, with Android Wear 2 you can use Find My Phone to make your phone ring over LTE, Wifi, and Bluetooth.

Blackberry Hub+

By tapping on an email notification in Android Wear 2, you get the first several lines of the email. You can also reply to emails from the smartwatch.

Uber standalone

Assisted by the GPS/LTE/Wifi based location, the standalone Uber app is one of a growing fleet of standalone Android Wear apps that work great from the watch, even if you forgot your phone or the battery died. I believe this Uber standalone app will save lives and improve safety for those with a dead phone who otherwise might be stranded and have to find a riskier way home–instead they can use Uber from their Wear watch.

Android Wear security

  • auto-lock: Android Wear 2 locks within a second or so of the watch being removed from my wrist, for at least the LG-W280A & LG-W200A.
  • Email: you can read and reply to email someone sends you.
  • Google Keep: Can read all notes
  • Hangouts/Skype: can read prior messages and calls

WiFi WPA-EAP (RADIUS)

WiFi WPA-EAP WAPs as used in corporate networks (or excellent home networks) require the Wi-Fi Manager appfour app. Android Wear 2 won’t connect to WAP-EAP without a third-party app.

Consider the security implications of entering your 802.1x password into a third-party app! Particularly if your institution has a single signon (SSO), you could be making a major security risk–don’t enter such a password into a third-party app.

Smartwatch encryption

Android Device Policy, a BYoD-focused app, does not allow your Wear smartwatch to use your work email as the primary account if your administrator requires encryption. Android Wear 2 does not use device encryption.

Workaround: Use a personal gmail.com address as the primary device address.

Login security

Android Wear allows PIN, Password, or Swipe pattern. Android Wear for better security should force you to unlock your phone with password and then reauthorize the watch after say 3 or 5 failed attempts to unlock Wear. Right now after 3 failed attempts with Wear, you get locked out for 1 minute. This is not secure enough in my opinion, and should be at least made an option.

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