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Interactive watch faces are exactly what you’d expect: They let you engage with information on the actual watch screen when you first look at your wrist. Tapping could change the watch face design, launch a specific app, or reveal more information (like location of your next meeting, the weather, or your fitness activity).
Google has worked with some early partners on a handful of interactive watch faces. There are 21 available today, of which Google highlighted three to showcase what interactive watch faces can do:
- Bits: Choose the info you want at a glance — from weather, to unread mail, to upcoming meetings. Want to know this afternoon’s weather forecast? Just tap on weather.
- UnderArmour: Stay motivated with fitness stats on your wrist. Tap the watch face to see your step count, calories burned, and distance.
- Together: Two people can stay close throughout the day by turning the entire watch face into a space for sharing. Once you’ve paired your watch face with a partner’s, you’ll be able to share things like photos and emoji, as well as your activities (like if you’re working out, on the phone, or stuck in traffic).
More importantly though, the interactive watch face API is now open to all developers looking to build their own. That means instead of just displaying something on your watch face, developers can now detect taps and provide information without having to open an app.
To build an interactive watch face, you’ll need to update your build.gradle to use version 1.3.0 of the Wearable Support library. You can then enable interactive watch faces in your watch face style using setAcceptsTapEvents(true).
As for Google Translate, the addition means you can now speak into your watch to see your words translated into one of 44 supported languages. Flip your wrist to show the translation to a friend. When they respond in their own language, flip your wrist back, and you’ll see their response in your language.
The best part is that Google Translate will automatically recognize which of the two languages is being spoken. That means once you tap to start the conversation with your friend, you don’t have to keep setting the translation languages over and over.
Because Google Translate is built into Android Wear, you can have these bilingual conversations even if you don’t have Google Translate on your phone. You can also use the feature if you’re away from your phone, as long as you’re connected via Wi-Fi.
This isn’t a huge update to Android Wear, but it looks to be a very welcome one. Interactive watch faces have a lot of potential, as long as developers show interest in building them, and Google Translate support is a very useful addition.
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