Android Wear 2.0 clocks (smarter smartwatches)

Android Wear hasn’t exactly been a wrist-roaring success since its debut in 2014.

The pressure is squarely on Google to make good with the Android Wear 2.0 software release that debuts Friday on two new LG smartwatches, especially as it faces completion not just from the Apple Watch, but from Samsung’s Gear S3, which relies on a flavor of software called Tizen.

Android Wear must play catch-up. Smartwatches based on Google’s operating system for wearables collectively garnered just a 13% market share globally in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the Strategy Analytics research and advisory firm. By contrast, the Apple Watch had a 63% share — and a surprisingly robust holiday selling also brings a Google Play Store, which lets you download and purchase many apps or watch faces directly on the watch, from Nest to Uber, without the need to carry your phone. It also means that an Android Watch could appeal to an iPhone owner, not just folks who’ve chosen Android also can charge the watch wirelessly by placing it in a cradle.

I’m not ready to swap my Apple Watch for one of the LG smartwatches. But Android Wear 2.0 does make Google-based smartwatches that much smarter and are worth keeping a watchful eye on.

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