Now you can make calls, text, and control your Android Wear Watch with gestures

Moto 360 2015's release notes for Android Wear 1.4 show Doze mode, app permissions support

android wear 2017 guide watchphone feature
Do you own an Android Wear smartwatch and seethe with jealousy when you see your Apple Watch-touting compatriot answer a call from his or her wrist? Fret not. Google is rolling out a big update — 1.4 Marshmallow — to Android Wear devices that’ll let you channel your inner Dick Tracy by making and listening to calls on supported smartwatches. But that’s not the only feature in tow. The new firmware adds voice dictation for third-party messaging apps such as WhatsApp, plus wacky new gestures with which to perform the various functions of your watch.

Updated on 02-08-2016 by Julian ChokkattuAdded in more upcoming features such as Doze and app permissions based on the release notes from Motorola. 

While phone call support and new gestures are sure to keep a lot of users happy, there are a few under-the-hood updates that will be in the Marshmallow update for Android Wear smartwatches. Doze mode was introduced with Android 6.0 and reduces battery consumption when a device is on standby and hasn’t been used for a while, and according to the release notes from Motorola, the Moto 360 2nd generation will reap the benefits of Doze.

It’s unclear if the other Android Wear devices will receive Doze mode as a part of the update, but it’s highly likely that it is baked into the operating system itself as Google doesn’t allow OEMs to tweak or customize it. The release notes from Motorola also stated that the Moto 360 second generation will be able to handle app permissions, so you can control what you share with your apps. This was also introduced in Android 6.0, and will likely make its way to all Android Wear devices as well — as per the Google blog post.

The release notes don’t mention the Moto 360 first generation, so we’ll have to wait and see when and if the update will reach the device.

Phone call support is the undoubted highlight, and works exactly as you’d expect. If you’re the lucky owner of an Android Wear watch with a built-in speaker — i.e., the Huawei Watch or Asus ZenWatch 2 — you can initiate or receive calls from your wristwatch instead of your phone. The update lets you put that speaker to good use in other ways, too. You can listen to voicemails and audio from apps such as Glide.

Luckily for the many folks whose Android Wear watch lacks the aforementioned speaker, calling isn’t the only new luxury that the update affords. Third-party messaging services such as Telegram, WhatsApp, and Viber now sport wrist-based dictation via a new contextual command — saying “OK Google, send a WhatsApp message” will, for example, send a WhatsApp message. And last but not least, new gestures make it easier to expand and scroll through notifications one-handed … in theory.

AndroidWear-DesignedForYourWrist

The new gestures require a bit of explanation. To expand an Android Wear card, you hold your arm away from your body and push quickly downward, as if depressing a bicycle pump. Repeating that motion moves through the selected card’s actions (e.g., “Open on phone” or “Block app”). To go back to a previous screen, you hold your arm out and do the reverse: pivot upward. To return to the watch’s face, you shake your wrist in any direction. Finally, to open the settings menu from the watch face, you turn your wrist away from you and then quickly flick it quickly — quickly! — back toward you. Got it? Good.

Convoluted new gestures (to put it mildly) aside, update 1.4 Marshmallow is the latest in a series of significant, recent upgrades to Android Wear. In November, Google introduced cellular support for watches with the requisite radios, and in June, it added emoji drawing and Wi-Fi connectivity. With the successor to the Apple Watch rumored to be unveiled in Fall alongside the iPhone 7, the improvements can’t come soon enough.

Waiting frantically for the update? Google says it’ll roll out to all Android Wear watches over the next few weeks.

Product Review

Garmin's $200 fitness watch gives feedback you don’t need a Ph.D. to understand

Garmin's new Forerunner 45S sets a high bar for an entry-level fitness watch. We took to the trails and hit the road to find out if this fitness watch should be your next running partner.
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Mobile

Motorola One Vision vs. Moto G7: Which phone is a vision of budget perfection?

If you're shopping for a new smartphone and you don't have much to spend, it's always worth checking out Motorola's wares. But which bargain phone is best — the Motorola One Vision or the Moto G7? Find out as we compare them.
Mobile

The Motorola One Vision is a 21:9 Android One phone with a 48-megapixel camera

Motorola has a new phone, but unlike its Moto G7 series, the Motorola One Vision comes with a promise of two years of Android version updates, and three years of security updates. That's because it's an Android One phone.
Mobile

Google and Qualcomm want to make more smart headphones with the Google Assistant

Google and Qualcomm have released a new development kit aimed at making it easier for manufacturers to add Google Assistant support to headphones and headsets. The development kit is now available.
Mobile

Stunning new G Shock is virtually indestructible in carbon fiber and titanium

Casio has released the most desirable new Gravitymaster connected watch -- the GWR-B1000X-1A. Made from carbon fiber, titanium, and sapphire, it also has a Bluetooth link to make using the watch's features a breeze.
Wearables

This strap and case combo makes the Apple Watch the perfect travel companion

The Apple Watch is highly customizable, due to the ease with which the straps can be changed. Here's how the latest springtime 2019 straps look, and our accessory pick to keep them safe and looking their best.
Wearables

Fitbit’s kid-friendly Ace 2 fitness tracker now available for pre-order

Fitbit is now selling the Ace 2 fitness tracker for kids. The entry-level wearable counts steps, tracks active minutes, and monitors sleep to help keep kids active and encourage healthy habits throughout the day.
Deals

Kate Spade, Fossil, and other women’s smartwatches get big price cuts

Today’s smartwatches are a far cry from the blocky, rubber devices of yesteryear. Fashion brands like Kate Spade and Michael Kors are offering their own stylish smartwatches for women, and a number of them are on sale right now.
Health & Fitness

Coros pushes the limits with light, long-lasting Vertix adventure watch

Coros continues to turn heads in the fitness watch market. With a titanium frame and 45 days of battery life, the new Coros Vertix is the lightest and longest lasting adventure watch now available.
Deals

The Dragon Touch Vision 3 action cam is an affordable GoPro alternative

In the arena of action cameras, GoPro has long held a firm grasp on the top spot. Now, thanks to GoPro alternative Dragon Touch, which is currently on Amazon for just $50, you have a more affordable choice.
Deals

The Garmin Forerunner 35 gets a $50 price slash on Amazon

If you’re looking for an easy way to keep track of your fitness goals, a fitness tracker might be just what you need. The Garmin Forerunner 35 is one of our all-time favorites, and it’s on sale right now for $120.
Apple

AirPods deal alert: Apple’s latest wireless earphones are at their lowest price

Apple just refreshed its AirPods, making an solid product even better. The newest AirPods make the case chargeable using Qi charging, always-on Siri, and better Bluetooth connectivity. While they're out of stock on Amazon, you can order now…
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for May 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals for…