Last Posts

An undisclosed feature in Android 15 may provide enhanced media control capabilities when paired with a Wear OS smartwatch

(Image credit: Peter Hoffmann)

 Switching from earbuds to a smart speaker without having to physically pick up your Android phone could soon be possible.

Android 15 appears to introduce the capability to manage your phone's media output using Wear OS smartwatches.

During a code analysis of the Wear OS companion app function in the Android 15 beta by Mishaal Rahman of Android Authority, a reference to "MEDIA_ROUTING_CONTROL" was found. This new permission supposedly allows the companion app to "access a list of available devices and control which one streams or casts audio or video from other apps."

Although the description is somewhat ambiguous, Android Authority pointed out that once these privileged control permissions are granted to the companion app, they also extend to the connected smartwatch. Essentially, this means that the smartwatch would have the ability to access a list of available connected devices (presumably those paired with a companion smartphone) in order to route audio or video through them.

It is said that this capability allows you to begin playing music on your phone using a set of connected headphones, and then utilize a Wear OS smartwatch to transition the playback to a connected smart speaker without requiring the use of the phone.

It would be useful if you wanted to switch the audio playback from one device to another (e.g. from earbuds to a Bluetooth speaker) without needing to access your phone. Currently, Wear OS allows some control over media playback directly from a smartwatch and within watch-based apps, but for more comprehensive control over audio from services like Spotify, a connected phone is still required.

 Enhancing the direct control of media playback via a Wear OS smartwatch could enable more functionality without the need to constantly access a connected Android phone. By expanding Wear OS capabilities and connectivity, Google could strengthen its device ecosystem and improve the interaction between devices, providing a user experience similar to Apple's product and software ecosystem.

It is uncertain whether this feature will be available on all Wear OS devices or limited to specific Google devices such as the Pixel Watch and Pixel Watch 2. It is also unclear if it will be included in the full release of Android. More information is expected to be revealed at Google I/O 2024 on May 14, where we anticipate learning more about the future of Android, Wear OS, and other Google software.


Font Size
lines height