Android Wear gets cellular support, still needs to be paired with a phone

Google logoGoogle has announced that Android Wear now supports cellular access. OEMs will now be able to pack cellular modems and SIM cards into a smartwatch, allowing them to access the Internet and make calls without the phone being nearby or needing a Wi-Fi connection. The first device with baked-in cellular access will be the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE.

Cellular support still doesn't enable completely standalone Android Wear devices, though. You can leave your smartphone at home, but like with Android Wear's W-Fi support, a phone still has to be paired with the device, powered on, and connected to the Internet. The change is just that rather than pairing over Bluetooth, the watch pairs to the phone over the Internet through Wi-Fi or cellular.

Android Wear gets cellular support, still needs to be paired with a phone

There are a lot of tradeoffs here. Adding a cellular modem to a smartwatch would make it bulkier and more expensive, add a monthly access fee, and drain the battery faster, but the upside is that you can leave your smartphone at home and connect anywhere. This is something OEMs have shown they are interested in doing, with companies like Samsung and LG stepping out of the Android Wear ecosystem to build standalone smartwatches like the Samsung Gear S2 and the LG Watch Urbane LTE.

There's no word on if this cellular feature is part of a new version of Android Wear or something that just gets tacked on to existing versions. We've never seen a way to dial on an Android Wear device, so for phone calls, there will have to be at least some new UI.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Android Wear, Google, smartwatch

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