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Watchphones are coming: Google updates Android Wear with cellular connectivity

android wear 2017 guide watchphone feature
Image used with permission by copyright holder
The Android Wear smartwatch platform continues to evolve, and in the latest update from Google, it looks like we’ll be seeing a lot more watch phones coming soon. The new version adds support for cellular connectivity to Android Wear, paving the way for the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition to launch, and presumably more after it.

Announced on Google’s blog, the update adds a third way of connecting your smartwatch to the outside world, following Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but only if your watch has a SIM card slot. We’ll save you the bother of checking: It hasn’t. The first watch will be LG’s new Urbane, and that’s not on sale just yet. Once it’s here, the humble Android Wear smartwatch will become a fully fledged phone on your wrist.

It’ll allow the watch to be used without a paired phone — although it sounds like it’ll need to be setup using a phone initially, just like Samsung’s Gear S — or when it’s out of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth range. The watch will automatically swap over to it’s own SIM, and will make and receive calls, send messages, and run apps without any outside help. It’s the next stage on from utilizing the internal memory for music, and the GPS chip for location, when out for a run without your phone.

android wear watchphone
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The slight drawback is the watch will need its own SIM, and therefore its own monthly plan. It’s not certain how this will work yet, but it’s possible the watch’s connection will be tied into your phone’s data and call allowance, ensuring you aren’t paying for two or more independent connections.

We’ll know more about the costs involved in Android Wear watchphone ownership when the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition goes on sale, which should happen in the near future. Both AT&T and Verizon will be stocking the device, according to Google. International buyers will have the chance to buy an LTE Watch Urbane in the future.

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Andy Boxall
Senior Mobile Writer
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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