Android Wear's software can't help but seem a little dated and feature-light compared to the Apple Watch, but Google might be turning the tide soon. Yesterday, the company announced the impending arrival of Android Wear 2.0, an update that brings significant changes to the entire wearable experience.

Refreshed Material Design visuals drive the entire experience, but the update will also bring slicker notifications, smart replies straight from the watch, a full keyboard for typing or swiping (seriously), and customisable faces with various complications (those little widgets, like on Apple Watch).

Best of all, Android Wear 2.0 will let devices run independently without your phone, letting them grab data over Wi-Fi or cellular connections (if the watch allows), and allow for standalone apps as well. A developer preview is available now, and the full version of Wear 2.0 should be out later this year.

5. 'ALLO, DUO!

Google dedicated an early portion of the keynote to a pair of iPhone apps, surprisingly – but they're on Android too, of course. Allo and Duo are a couple of chat apps with a notably different focus for each.

Allo is a new kind of text messaging app that won't outright replace Hangouts, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve. The biggest of those is the Google Assistant, which acts as a chatbot within your conversations and can suggest contextual information, pull in information from the web, and even recognise dog breeds… probably not a function you'll need daily, but you never know.

On the other hand, Duo is all about video chat, attempting to knock FaceTime and Skype from the throne. Duo's most interesting feature is Knock Knock, a visual preview of your caller that gives you a chance to dodge an uncomfortable dialogue should the person on the other line seem upset. Smart tweak, that. Both apps will be available on Android and iOS this summer.


One of the more intriguing Android developments at I/O 2016 was Google's Instant Apps, which allows developers to create interfaces that run smoothly and natively like local apps but are actually streamed from servers. What's the point? Well, they're ideal for things you need to access on your phone occasionally, but don't want to keep an app around for.

Google's example is an app for paying street parking fees: you probably don't want to go through the hassle of finding the app on the Play Store, downloading it, loading it up, and so on and so forth. Instead, an NFC trigger in the payment box could bring up a small web app for paying – even with Android Pay – letting you get the job done in moments. Instant Apps will also be available via web links and Google search, attempting to save you some time without sacrificing interface quality and responsiveness.


Looking for some cool new apps for your Chromebook? You should have about a million-plus more options soon thanks to the coming availability of the Play Store, which will allow Android apps and games to run right on the budget-friendly laptops.

It's a move that's been rumoured for a while as Google reportedly mulls a Chrome OS and Android merger, and Google spilled the word via an I/O session listing (since changed) – but a developer build last month already spoiled the surprise to some extent. We don't know exactly when the functionality will be switched on for everyone, but it ought to be pretty soon.