Let’s face it: Smartwatches for Android haven’t been really great.
I used to be all in on smartwatches, but after constant disappointment as an Android user, I gave up on the idea altogether. Wear OS devices are usually too bulky, slow, and/or have sucky battery life. And while Samsung largely addressed the battery life problem by going with its own Tizen OS devices, app support for Galaxy Watches has been lackluster.
Now the two companies are joining forces to create a better, faster, and more efficient Wear OS, “bringing the best of Wear and Tizen into a single, unified platform.” Though the companies didn’t unveil any new hardware today, there’s hope Android smartwatches can finally take on the Apple Watch.
Google says it’s been able to make apps start “up to 30% faster” on the latest chips and optimized the software to allow you to “run the heart rate sensor continuously during the day, track your sleep overnight and still have battery for the next day.” The proof is in the pudding, but a man can dream.
Speed optimizations aside, Google has made several improvements to the user experience, including shortcuts for accessing recent apps, and more ways to customize your home screen. Key to this are new Tiles that are able to show information from your favorite apps at a glance.
Wear OS is also getting a refreshed look with Google’s new ‘Material You’ design language, alongside redesigned Google Maps, Assistant, and Pay experiences.
Google also notes that this update isn’t only coming to Google and Samsung devices, and will be available to all device makers. Considering Google doesn’t actually have any wear OS devices, that seems to imply one is on the way.
We’ve already seen rumors about a Google Wear OS device, and considering the company now owns Fitbit, it’s not too hard to imagine a Pixel Watch showing up sooner or later. Speaking of, Fitbit also announced it would be bringing its software into Wear OS.
Google says the new updates to Wear OS are coming ‘later this year.’ I wouldn’t be surprised to them coincide with the launch of the new Galaxy Watch or this fall’s Pixel devices.