Android Wear 5.0 came out last month—it was the third noteworthy update to the wearable OS, following versions 4.4W.1 and 4.4W.2. It’s not a significant enough update to merit its own standalone review, but it’s been a while since our last check-in with the platform. Plus, the launch of the Apple Watch is just a few months away at most.
Google also recently sent us another Android Wear watch we hadn’t seen before—LG’s G Watch R, the round version of the regular square G Watch we looked at back when Android Wear launched. It looks more like a finished product today, where as the first G Watch looked like no-frills development hardware. The G Watch R also doesn’t use the old power-hungry internals that give the Moto 360 so many problems.
So armed with a new watch and new software, we spent a full month wearing Android Wear to get a sense of how far it’s come since its original release a little over six months ago. While not all of our initial complaints have been addressed, not by a long shot, there are definitely signs of progress.
Android Wear 5.0, specifically
While the “base” version of Android upon which Android Wear is based has increased from 4.4W.2 to 5.0.1, tapping on that version number in the Settings shows that the proper Android Wear version number has only jumped from 1.01 to 1.05. The latter number is more indicative of the kind of changes you can expect. This isn’t a KitKat to Lollipop-sized jump, but a more incremental improvement.
Most of Android Wear’s general look and feel remains the same. After using three different watches with different specs running both the old software and the new, we believe most people won’t notice any drastic performance or battery life improvements. If you’re holding on to hope that a software update is going to magic three-day battery life into your Moto 360, those kinds of magic bullets just don’t exist.