WATCH | Google and LG have introduced two new smartwatches. And a lot of their looks and features are coming in an update to current Android Wear smartwatches.
Android Wear 2.0
The LG Watch Sport ($349) and LG Watch Style ($249) are new smartwatches designed with Google's help. They're also the first watches to run on Google's new Wear 2.0 software, which brings a new look and lots of new tricks to the OS that all Google smartwatches run.
The Sport and the Style will be available to purchase on February 10, and the Android Wear 2.0 update will be coming to almost 20 current Google watches (full compatibility list here) in the coming weeks.
The LG Watch Style (left) and the LG Watch Sport (right).
Style and Sport
The Watch Sport is the more feature-packed of LG's two new e-timepieces; it has a larger screen, a GPS chip built in for tracking your runs and 4G LTE connectivity for using it without a phone at all.
The Style lacks the above connectivity, but is thinner and lighter, and, unlike the Sport, does use a traditional -- and thus swappable -- watch band.
Leave your phone in your pocket
The Wear 2.0 software launching alongside LG's new watches comes complete with a new tiny QWERTY keyboard and a hand-writing detection feature, meaning replying to text messages and email with your watch (in other words, without having to take your phone out of your pocket) is much easier. And the updated watch faces in 2.0 provide a ton of info at just glance.
You can now type on a tiny keyboard on your Google smartwatch screen. Um ... finally?
Leave your phone at home
Wear 2.0 smartwatches with cellular connectivity (the Watch Sport, for instance) will be able to not only make calls without being tethered to a phone, but also pull in data to run apps. That will include streaming tunes from a number of different music services.
There's also now a version of the Play Store that opens up right on the watch screen, so there'll be no phone needed to find and download new Wear apps.
Google Assistant on the small screen
The search giant's AI-based Google Assistant digital helper -- first seen in the Google Pixel smartphone, the Google Allo messenger and Google Home -- is onboard the latest version of Wear, too. And that means Android watches will be able to take all kinds of new orders and answer a slew of new questions by voice.
"OK, Google -- is it finally time to buy a smartwatch?"