As the Apple Watch has been seeing record sales thanks to lowered prices and a fitness focus, it might seem like its competitors are starting to fall behind.
But Google is hoping to turn the tide with Android Wear 2.0, which launches this week—and with it a host of new smartwatches looking to take a bite out of Apple.
The original Android Wear launched back in 2014, to lukewarm reviews and complaints that the software was rushed out the door to compete with Apple. With 2.0, Google has revamped the software with a UI that’s easier to navigate and less reliant on a paired smartphone.
Most notably, Android Wear 2.0 has the popular Google Assistant software built in. Simply say “Okay, Google” to get directions, compose text messages, or get your latest fitness stats.
While the LG Watch Style comes in at an affordable $249, the real poster child for Wear 2.0 is the $349 LG Watch Sport. The Sport comes with a built in GPS and heart rate monitors, but the most impressive feature is that it has 4G LTE built into the watch itself. This means you can use all of your favorite fitness apps (like Google Fit, Strava, and Runtastic) and even make calls during your workout without your phone taking space in your pocket—no tethering required. Wear 2.0 also includes the ability to browse and download apps directly from the watch itself, as opposed to downloading them to a tethered phone.
While it’s hard to say if consumers will be swayed by the new features, Android Wear 2.0 is undeniably a significant improvement over its predecessor. Time will tell if the LG Watch Sport can compete with the behemoth that is the Apple Watch.