Android Wear's Lollipop update adds a slew of new watch faces

It's like an early Christmas for the handful of Android Wear users out there. A long-awaited upgrade to Android Lollipop is rolling out for the platform today, bringing with it a big focus on customization through watch faces. There are now dozens of stylized face designs available on Google Play, including some featuring the likes of Pac-Man and Despicable Me minions. You can install them right from Google's app store, or via the new Android Wear app (which also lets you quickly switch between faces). Not surprisingly, Google is also officially launching its Watch Face API for developers today, which means we'll see plenty more new designs rolling out over the next few months.

For the most part, the new watch faces take advantage of the vivid color screens on Android Wear devices. That's a step up from many of the earlier attempts from Google and watch makers, which tried to mimic the look of analog watches (to varying degrees of success). The variety of options are yet another reminder of just how important personalization is for wearables. The update also packs in a few new features, including quick access to screen modes for both dark and bright rooms, as well as the ability to quickly block notifications from apps. While this is all good news for Wear early adopters, there's still little reason for mainstream buyers to consider these smartwatches. And that likely won't happen until Google and its partners do something about the platform's notoriously poor battery life, and come up with Wear apps that offer more than just glorified notifications.