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Google is today announcing the rollout of cellular support for Android Wear, which means that smartwatches running on the OS will no longer need to pair with a smartphone via Bluetooth (or connect to Wi-Fi) to get online — assuming they have a 3G or LTE chip.
Right now, there’s only one Android Wear smartwatch that comes with LTE connectivity, and that’s the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition, which LG announced is beginning to roll out in key markets today (first in Korea and the U.S. on AT&T and Verizon, with Europe, Asia, and elsewhere to follow).
Expect a lot more cellular-enabled Android Wear devices to follow hard and fast now that Google has rolled out the update. And don’t forget, this means buying a dedicated sim card for the device, forking out extra dollars on a monthly basis to support that 3G or LTE connection. The value will depend on how much use you get from your watch.
“No more worrying about Bluetooth or Wi-Fi—your watch will automatically switch to a cellular connection when you’re out of range,” Peter Ludwig, product manager for Android Wear, said in an official blog posting on Wednesday.
“As long as your watch and phone are connected to a cellular network, you’ll be able to use your watch to send and receive messages, track fitness, get answers from Google, and run your favorite apps. And yes, you’ll even be able to make and take calls right from your watch, for when your hands are full, or your phone is elsewhere,” he added.
If you’re thinking, Hey wait a minute, the Samsung Gear S released in November last year had 3G connectivity — you’d be right. But it doesn’t run on Android Wear, instead it’s using Samsung’s own Tizen operating system.
The Apple Watch, meanwhile, which launched in April and runs on watchOS (watchOS 2 arrived in September), doesn’t yet support cellular connections. So Google has raced ahead of Apple on this one, something it doesn’t always manage to do.
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