Skip to main content

Wear OS 4 is coming to your smartwatch this year — here’s what’s new

Wear OS is getting a major update with Wear OS 4, and with it, Google’s promising a big improvement to the overall smartwatch experience.

Announced today at Google I/O 2023, Wear OS 4 is adding a slew of new features on both a system level as well as an individual app level, meaning that smartwatch owners will be able to have a more streamlined and productive experience when using their devices.

The Galaxy Watch 5 and Pixel Watch main screens.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Going live later this year, Wear OS 4 will improve battery life for all devices running it.  Wear OS has never been known for great battery life, so improvements here are more than welcome. Additionally, the OS update will add “new and improved accessibility features” that include a greatly improved text-to-speech engine that will work faster and be more reliable, resulting in clearer hands-free reading.

While perhaps not immediately exciting for non-developer smartwatch owners, Wear OS 4 introduces Watch Face Format, a tool that allows developers to easily create custom watch faces without having to worry about battery optimization. Although this won’t change much for casual smartwatch wearers when Wear OS 4 goes live, it will result in more exciting watch faces being offered via Google Play later down the line.

Beyond Wear OS 4, Google has also announced numerous updates to popular Wear OS apps — including changes to first-party Google apps such as Google Home, Gmail, and Calendar. Smart locks and other devices will now be able to be controlled entirely from watches, emails will be able to be managed and sent using the improved text-to-speech functions, and all Calendar functions will be available without needing to unlock a paired phone.

In addition to first-party app optimizations, the new dedicated WhatsApp Wear OS app allows owners to send messages and make calls right from their wrists. New updates and improvements for Spotify and Peloton will also be coming soon to allow for more seamless app experiences.

In terms of a release date for Wear OS 4, we don’t know much about when it’ll finally be going live other than to expect it “later this year.” When it eventually does launch, we expect the update will be available on the Pixel Watch, the Galaxy Watch 4, the Galaxy Watch 5, and the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro as well as on any other Wear OS devices.

Editors' Recommendations

Peter Hunt Szpytek
A podcast host and journalist, Peter covers mobile news with Digital Trends and gaming news, reviews, and guides for sites…
The Pixel Watch has been utterly crushed by its latest rival
A Pixel Watch and TicWatch Pro 5 side-by-side.

After using the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 for the last two weeks and being seriously impressed by it, I wondered what it would be like to return to the Google Pixel Watch — a smartwatch I wasn’t so taken with.

A few days with the Pixel Watch reminded me why it was a disappointment. Make no mistake: If you’ve got $350 to spend on an Android smartwatch, there’s only one model that should be on your list.
A step back in performance

Read more
No, you really don’t need Google Assistant on your smartwatch
Google Assistant listening on the Google Pixel Watch.

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 doesn’t have Google Assistant built-in, and you can’t separately download and install the app from the Google Play Store. It’s the latest in a line of Android smartwatches that don’t have Assistant onboard, following on from the Montblanc Summit 3 and most modern Fossil smartwatches, but it’s still a standard feature on Google’s own Pixel Watch.

Is Google holding Assistant back for its own devices? Maybe, but I’m not going to worry about it, and I definitely don’t think you should pick the Pixel Watch over the TicWatch Pro 5 due to it. Why? The Assistant on a smartwatch isn’t the selling point Google seems to think it is.
Is it needed on a smartwatch?

Read more
Your iPhone could steal this Pixel Tablet feature when it gets iOS 17
iPhone 14 Pro with always on display no wallpaper or notifications

With iOS 17 coming in hot for its expected June reveal during Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, iPhone owners are anxious to hear about any big features coming with the update. According to Bloomberg, a major change is coming in the form of a complete interface overhaul for locked devices that effectively turns your iPhone into a smart display.

The new interface will supposedly display a plethora of information like the weather, push notifications, upcoming significant calendar dates, and more. Per the report, this new interface displays automatically when your iPhone is locked and laying horizontally with its screen facing up.

Read more