Wrist Gestures Coming to Android Wear in Latest Update

November 24, 2015 • Devin Partida


Since its launch, Google’s Android Wear platform has received a few updates introducing new features and support. One update added iOS compatibility options for the newest models — meaning you can now pair select Android Wear smartwatches with an iPhone.

The latest update — version 1.4 — will introduce a much-needed feature: ‘wrist gesture’ controls.

We probably don’t need to explain to you why many people find typing, managing and interacting with a tiny two-inch touchscreen display to be tedious and troublesome at times.

The Android Wear platform is designed well, but its method of inputting information can still lead to some frustration. Hopefully, the new wrist gestures will solve this input issue.

What Are the “Wrist Gestures” For?

The new update adds support for a feature called “wrist gestures,” which is fairly self-explanatory: While you’re wearing the device, you’ll be able to activate certain features by moving or flicking your wrist a certain way.

For example, to return to the watch face from within any app or menu, you can simply hold your arm out in front of you and then wiggle or shake your wrist.

Previous Android Wear devices did include gesture support, but the function wasn’t as heavily used as it is now. In addition, the gestures used in the past were always subtle flicks and shakes.

You can accomplish three main tasks with wrist gestures: scrolling through cards or notifications, taking action on a card and returning to the main watch face. There are minor gestures you can make for each one of those areas.

The gesture-reliant technology might look a bit silly in action, but it’s worth it. Just imagine having your hands full while trying to dismiss a notification or interact with your watch: Thanks to this update, you would only need to perform a quick gesture or two.


Other Features Added in Android Wear 1.4

Wrist gesture recognition is not the only new feature in the latest update. Other features include audio feedback and cellular data support. Most of the watches that support these two features are new. To take advantage of the audio feedback you’ll need to own one of the select Android Wear smartwatch models that are equipped with speakers, such as the Asus ZenWatch 2 or the Huawei Watch.

The mobile connectivity is currently only possible with the second edition of the LG Watch Urbane, the only Android Wear smartwatch with LTE support. Eventually, more devices will be released with mobile connectivity options.

As these features develop in the future, they could form the foundation for a standalone smartwatch that doesn’t need to be paired with a smartphone in order to connect to a mobile network and send texts and emails or make and receive calls. In other words, the smartwatch may replace the phone.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves: For now, the gesture controls simply enable Android Wear owners to be more productive with their devices. You don’t have to worry about stopping work, putting down items you’re carrying or postponing interactions and discussions with others — just give a quick stretch and flick of the wrist to dismiss notifications or return to the watch face.

You probably already save a lot of time because you don’t have to whip out your smartphone every time you receive a notification or message — imagine how much faster you could work with the audio feedback support and gesture controls.

With an Android Wear smartwatch, you’ll be a productivity machine. If you don’t already own a smartwatch, now’s the perfect time to get one!