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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.

Peter Hunt Szpytek
A podcast host and journalist, Peter covers mobile news with Digital Trends and gaming news, reviews, and guides for sites…
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