Android Wear update will add interactive faces and Translate functionality

Impending update should put Google's smartwatch platform on better footing with the Apple Watch

Since the release of the Apple Watch, we've been eagerly awaiting a response from Google - whether it would be new hardware from partners or UI and operating system enhancements to Android Wear. Ideally both, given how quiet it's been since last year's initial burst of devices.

Well, it sounds like new hardware is on the horizon, and today, Google announced that it will add significant functionality to the platform on the software side, as well. The next update, likely known as Android Wear 1.3, will bring new software features that should seriously enhance all current watches and inform the next wave, as well.

First reported on about a month back, the operating system update will bring interactive watch faces, which let developers add "complications," as they're called. In the digital world, that means icons that you can tap to access more detailed information, such as the weather or your agenda, or launch right into another app.

Bits Watch Face from Monument Valley maker ustwo is spotlighted in Google's post, featuring an array of circles that contain different details you might want in a hurry (like email and your calendar). The Under Armour face, on the other hand, can show you steps walked, calories burned, and distance covered with a tap. And there's a guide for developers to start implementing the functionality in their faces.

The update will also add a Together watch face, which lets two Android Wear users link up for direct interactions. You can send each other doodles, images, or emoji, or share your current activity - like a workout or map. It looks like a response to the Digital Touch features seen on the Apple Watch, albeit in an all-inclusive package that includes even more functionality.

Google Translate support is also being baked right into the OS with this update, so you won't need the app on your phone to use it. It'll support 44 languages right from the start, letting you speak a phrase, have it translated, and then flip your wrist to let the other person you're speaking with do the same. It automatically recognizes the spoken language, so it's just a matter of flipping your wrist as needed to continue the conversation.

Lastly, as hinted last month, the LG G Watch R will gain Wi-Fi support with the update, allowing it to receive messages and such without a Bluetooth connection to your phone. That's an overdue, but certainly welcome addition for LG's sporty wearable.

No word yet on exactly when the update will hit all devices, but Google says it'll start rolling out in the coming weeks. We'll let you know when it starts actually reaching watches.

[Sources: Google, Android Police, Google Translate]