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Next software update will let Android Wear watches leave the phone behind

Now that everyone has tipped their hand on Android Wear hardware, Google is sharing additional plans for the software. On Friday, the company detailed new features that will arrive later this year in a software update for the wearable devices; one of which will add ways to use the Android Wear watches when not connected wirelessly to an Android phone.

The first update will make use of the internal storage found in devices, which has typically been 4 GB. Using the internal Bluetooth radio, Android Wear watches will gain offline music playback of locally stored files. You’ll need wireless headphones, of course, since there’s no speaker found on the watches. Besides, I wouldn’t want to hear the latest Ed Sheeran hit on a little wrist-mounted speaker anyway.

android wear watches

[company]Google[/company] plans to also add GPS support in the same Android Wear update. That will enable you to go off and run with an exercise tracking app and get a map of your route, for example. As it stands now, Android Wear apps rely on the GPS sensor of a connected phone; I ran with RunKeeper on my [company]Samsung[/company] Gear Live but it was the phone that provided the GPS data and mapping. After the update, a phone won’t be needed for this type of activity.

You’ll need the right hardware to use the GPS feature though: Few Android Wear watches currently come with a GPS radio. As noted in our comparison list of the devices, only the [company]Sony[company] Smartwatch 3 currently includes a GPS radio so this function will be more useful in future hardware iterations.

Ironically, I had both of these features and used them heavily in my early 2012 smartwatch: A Motorola MotoACTV, which worked both with a smartphone and as a standalone device thanks to included Wi-Fi, GPS, and flash storage for music.