Google is announcing the rollout of the first major Android Wear update, which allows the smartwatch OS to do a few core functions without being tethered to a smartphone. The update—which was detailed last month—allows a Wear device to play music directly to Bluetooth headphones and use an internal GPS chip to track location, all without the need to tether to a smartphone.
The most obvious use for the new feature is running. Now, with only a watch, a jogging user could listen to music and track their progress with one less device. This previously required dragging a phone along, but when you're running, it's nice to carry as little technology as possible.
The bad news is that the first batch of Android Wear devices didn't plan ahead for this. While standalone music will work on existing devices, nothing on the market right now has a GPS chip. Early adopters of devices like the Moto 360 will have to buy a new smartwatch to take advantage of the GPS feature.
The first (and so far only) Wear device to have an internal GPS chip is the square Sony SmartWatch 3, which will go on sale at the end of the month. The SmartWatch 3 is also the first Wear device with an NFC chip, but right now that is only useful to assist in Bluetooth pairing.
On the app front, Google says there are "tens of thousands" of apps that have been enhanced for Wear already, and it has started curating groups of apps on the Play Store. Next up for Wear should be official watch face support, which was also mentioned last month along with this update (but that support isn't out yet).