Samsung and Google have now officially put the Google Assistant on the Galaxy Watch 4. You should receive a Wear OS update with the ability to enable it on your Samsung smartwatch beginning today. The update also applies to Watch 4 Classic users.
Samsung published a blog post announcing the Google Assistant update. “The latest OS opens access to Google Play giving users access to some of the most popular apps in the Google ecosystem,” writes Samsung. The post mentions Google Maps, Google Pay, and YouTube Music, though those apps were already available. YouTube Music recently received an update to make it more usable on Wear OS devices.
I haven’t yet had a chance to play with Google Assistant on Samsung’s flavour of Wear OS yet, but the hand-free capabilities it’ll enable sound promising. According to a Google support page, you can call upon it to control smart home devices, get information about your day, or start tracking a run in apps like Google Fit. (I’ll be especially curious to see if I can set a default app to track my hikes, since I’ve converted over to Samsung Health.) The smart home controls are especially exciting because, up until now, you had to rely solely on Samsung’s SmartThings (or some other random third-party app) to turn lights on and off with the Watch 4.
Google Assistant will also enable more hands-free correspondence. This was technically possible with Wear OS in its previous iteration, but it was tedious. You had to tap around the screen to bring up the keyboard, then tap the microphone button to start transcribing. In this instance, you’ll be able to rattle off a message entirely through Google Messages without tapping around first — the same way you would on any other Google device.
As for Bixby, it will continue to live on Samsung’s smartwatches concurrently with the Google Assistant. If you’re deep into the Samsung ecosystem, you might prefer Bixby over Google, especially if you have your smart home rooted in Samsung’s SmartThings or you’re wielding a Galaxy phone.
The update is a little earlier than we expected after last week’s Google developer conference, depending on where you’re sitting. Samsung had expressed the Google Assistant would arrive sometime in the summer, though that was merely an update to the initial announcement that it was on its way.
At the very least, this latest Wear OS update finally brings a much-needed feature to all Galaxy Watch 4 users. The Android land is still a fragmented one. But the inclusion of the Google Assistant on Samsung’s watches helps bridge that gap just a little more.