Google brings a full-featured version of Maps to Android Wear watches

Say so long to simple navigation and hello to more robust Maps software on your wrist. The battle for your wrist between Google and Apple is improving both watch products.

Not to be outdone by the latest Apple Watch update earlier today, Google has new software of its own for Android Wear watches. Maps is now fully featured on the wrist with touch interaction and a battery-saving ambient screen mode.

Android Police, which spotted the update, notes that you can zoom in or out on Maps, tap a button for the map to find your location and search for nearby places. Some of that may be difficult to do on a small screen, but from a informational standpoint, this is a big step up for Maps on Android Wear. Previously, Maps was limited to navigation activities.

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Android Central noticed the black and white screen option for Maps; handy for long stretches of navigation without eating up as much battery as a full color view.

Aside from having the latest version of Maps installed on your Android phone -- the new version is already in the Google Play Store -- you'll also need Android Wear 5.1 or better; that's the companion software that links an Android phone and Android Wear watch.

The Play Store doesn't actually mention these new Android Wear improvements, so it's possible that they're more of a beta; indeed Android Police noted a few crashes after installing Maps.

If nothing else, the competition between Apple and Google in the battle for your wrist is helping both companies improve their products. And to be a little more accurate, the competition is more of a perception anyway: You can't use one company's smartwatch with the other's phone.

As long as both keep thinking there is actual competition though, everyone wins through better products on both platforms.

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