Google is making slow but steady changes to its Wear OS smartwatch platform to catch up with the likes of Apple and Samsung, and its latest addition is called Tiles. These are essentially glanceable widgets that are just a swipe away from the watch face, so you don’t have to waste time scrolling and tapping.
The new update was announced ahead of Google I/O 2019, the company’s developer conference being held this wek, but it’s at the show that we managed to spend some time with Tiles to see what they’re like.
A swipe away
Let’s be real — this is a very simple update, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Prior to the update, when you swiped left from the main watch face, you were greeted with a Google Fit screen so you could quickly see how far along you were on your fitness goals for the day. Now, you can add various other Tiles to quickly see data from installed apps, like the weather, headlines from news apps, your heart rate, your next calendar event, and more. Just keep swiping left.
There are only about six Tiles you can add at the moment, and you can rearrange the Tiles to suit your needs. To do this, just touch and hold any Tile on your Wear OS smartwatch, and drag it to where you want it on the list. Alternatively, you can move it from your smartphone’s Wear OS app by touching and dragging the Tile of your choosing.
You just need to swipe all the way to the right until you reach an “Add Tiles” section so you can add more. The Tiles are very limited at the moment, but more will be on the way, and developers will need to take advantage of this new feature for you to be able to see Tiles from your favorite apps.
Tiles feel like a good step forward, but it also resembles what Samsung has done with its widgets on Galaxy and Gear smartwatches for several years now. Google really is just catching up, but Wear OS desperately needs more health- and fitness-focused features to help it compete with the Apple Watch Series 4, along with improved performance that doesn’t make the software experience stutter, and battery life that can last at least two to three days.
The Tiles update will be rolling out to most Wear OS watches over the next month — if you received the major redesign update from last September, your watch will get this one.
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