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Wearables at Google I/O 2021: Everything new announced today

Google has been perfecting its smartwatch operating system, Wear OS, for many years now. Despite the myriad of Android smartwatches on the market, as well as tweaks to the experience, the platform has remained in the shadow of the Apple Watch line. However, this year’s Google I/O keynote brought some intriguing new revelations about plans to move the platform onto a more sustainable route for long-term growth. While many of us are eager for new hardware, the developer’s show focused more on the software — but that’s not to say we won’t see something in the remaining days of Google I/O 2021. Here’s everything announced at the keynote.

Google and Samsung join forces for Wear

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In a major announcement at Google’s I/O 2021 event, Google said it is partnering with Samsung on a massive revamp of the Wear OS mobile platform, which will now simply be called “Wear.” What we’re looking at is Samsung’s Tizen and Google’s Android combining forces to make for a faster, smarter, and more responsive wearables experience.

For starters, app startup on new Google wearables is improved by up to 30%, thanks to innovations in device chipsets. Smoother interface animations and better motion capabilities for watch displays will be a direct result of this improvement.

Enhancements to battery life are also forthcoming, thanks to revamped low-power hardware cores. Users can look forward to Google watches lasting longer across the board. This is great news for those looking to keep tabs on various health and fitness monitors. Third-party developers can also look forward to their day in the sun, as the new Android/Tizen pairing means an improved, intuitive springboard for developers to craft apps for Google’s wearable lineup.

Fitbit and YouTube Music coming soon

While many of Google’s staple apps have been a part of Wear, such as Google Maps and Google Assistant, other popular apps will be making their way to the platform. The biggest will be the welcome addition of popular Fitbit features, such as health and fitness tracking. This integration will allow users to have even more devices, some of which have been siloed into Fitbit’s platform for a long time, to consider.

YouTube Music will also be making its way to Wear — providing subscribers with the ability to download their favorite music for local listening. A dedicated app means no longer being tied down to a smartphone when it comes to listening to music on the go.

Enhancements to the navigation experience

Enhancements to the overall user experience include new navigation abilities. This includes a quick relaunch for recently used apps, which will be accessible from any part of the watch face. For those looking to customize their experience, new Tiles utilize data from apps like Calm, Sleep Cycle, and Flo to give you at-a-glance info from the services you use the most. Spotify is another app that will get a new look on the latest Google wearables.

All of this and more will be rolling out later this year. You can be sure we’ll be reporting on it, along with other major announcements through the rest of Google’s I/O event.

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Michael Bizzaco
Michael Bizzaco has been writing about and working with consumer tech for well over a decade, writing about everything from…
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