Earlier this year, I got a little annoyed when Google renamed Android Wear to Wear OS. This was because even though Google’s intention to make its smartwatch OS less platform specific was good, it kind of felt meaningless without any new software or hardware features to improve how Wear OS actually works.
But then, at Google I/O 2018, things started to look up when Google showed off new functions for the Google Assistant in Wear OS. These new functions helped it predict your questions and operate more like the friendly AI helper you’re used to in other Google products.
But still, that was just the beginning, because now Google has another update for Wear OS that should help tie a lot of those separate features together in a more streamlined and accessible way.
In the new update, the Google Assistant in Wear OS will try to use GPS and other bits of relevant info to provide useful tips before you ever even think to ask, such as popping up a warning if it notices there’s traffic on the way to work, or telling you what the weather is like on the other end of a plane flight.
Google has also improved the integration of Google Fit — which just got a big update last week — into Wear OS, so that now your smartwatch can keep better tabs on your health and fitness, which is quickly becoming one of the most important jobs of a modern smartwatch.
And to make sure you don’t slack off, Wear OS will now surface tips from Google Fit to help keep your wellness goals in mind, while also giving you easier access to workout logging by simply swiping left from the home screen.
In fact, it seems Wear OS’ interface has been thoroughly streamlined to help cut down on the number of extra taps and swipes needed to access your smartwatch’s most important apps and features. After the update, you’ll be able to swipe up to flip through multiple notifications at once, swipe left to get to Google Fit, swipe right for the Google Assistant, or swipe down to reach shortcuts for Google Pay, "Find my phone", and more.
But what’s even more promising is that between improved integration with recently-updated Google apps, the timing of a big Qualcomm smartwatch announcement on September 10, and all the rumours about an upcoming Pixel Watch, I’d be a little shocked if we didn’t see the debut of Google’s first homegrown smartwatch sometime later this spring.
The new Wear OS update and features should roll out sometime over the next month, with the exact timing depending on who made your specific wearable, which version of Wear OS its currently running, and which country you’re in.