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Android Wear Just Got A Major Update Ahead Of The Apple Watch Launch

21/04/2015 10:39 BST | Updated 21/04/2015 16:59 BST

Despite the constant rumours that Google will finally make Android Wear compatible with iOS, the fact remains that at present, the Apple Watch will remain mostly uncontested when it goes on sale Friday 24 April.

That said, Google has released a timely new update which brings with it some seriously useful functionality to the Google smart watch.

The update will first rollout onto the LG G Watch Urbane, but expect it to be rolling out across all models including the Asus ZenWatch and the Moto 360.

Android Wear Is Now Gesture Controlled

The new update removes the need to use the touchscreen when scrolling through each notification card. Simply flick your wrist up and it'll dismiss the card and move onto the next one. It's a subtle but effective way of quickly scrolling through notifications.

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Android Wear Can Go Totally Phone Free

Google has been moving towards this for sometime now with the addition of offline music playback utlising the watch's onboard storage. Next up was the addition of GPS in some of the watches, allowing for more complete fitness tracking without your phone.

Well next up is WiFi-connectivity. You can leave your phone behind and as long as both phone and watch are connected to a WiFi network, you'll still be able to get all the notifications you receive on your phone, as if it were right there with you.

We're actually struggling to think of a scenario where this might be the case, but it is another clear step towards Google making Android Wear an independent product in its own right.

Always-On Apps

Apps are now always-on, which means that you'll no longer have to go trawling through the cards stack or through Google's now slightly-easier-to-get-to apps list. As long as it's open, it'll stay open.

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Draw Emojis On Android Wear

This is the real clincher and it's the feature that got most people mentioning the Apple Watch. Apple's smartwatch allows you draw shapes, pictures and send emojis as quick replies to messages.

Well now Android Wear will let you do the same, sort of. You'll be able to draw a rough picture of an emoji and Android Wear will then translate that into the corresponding emoji and send it.