Google’s Wear OS is evolving. The wearable device operating system has been crying out for an overhaul for sometime, and following the release of a revitalized Google Fit app, Wear OS is also receiving a small but meaningful update.
At the time of writing we have not tried it out, and there are a few unanswered questions over how the alterations will work at this point. Once we’ve got some clarification, we’ll update here; but in the meantime here’s what’s new.
Easier, faster access
Perhaps most welcome of all among the changes is a new notification system, which Google says makes it easier to browse, dismiss, or interact with incoming alerts. Swipe up in the new notification stream to show all your notifications in one go, with quick replies available with a tap, including the pre-made smart replies. We’re interested to see how this works, as it doesn’t sound drastically different to Wear OS’s current way of delivering notifications, but in Google’s screenshots and animations it looks a lot neater and more concise.
A downward swipe displays shortcuts to often used features including Google Pay and Find my Phone, although it’s not clear whether these can be manually added, are fixed shortcuts, or generated by usage. Google Assistant is closer to hand in the updated Wear OS. Swipe right to see contextual alerts, such as flight status and hotel details, and smart suggestions will also arrive here with updates related to these situations, like weather and directions. The Assistant will also learn your behavior and provide helpful daily reminders, plus suggest features you’ve never used.
Following on from the new Google Fit app, Wear OS also incorporates changes to Fit, which is now integrated as a swipe in from the left. You can see current activity levels based on Move Minutes and Heart Points, and it’s also possible to start a new workout from this screen too. In the screenshots, the circular progress dials seen in the new Google Fit app appear on the watch, in a similar fashion to Apple’s Activity rings on the Apple Watch.
Google plans to send the new Wear OS version out over the coming month, but has not given a precise date, and also warned that features will vary depending on not only the watch, but also on the phone’s operating system. This suggests some older versions of Android may not run all the features we’ve described. An update of Wear OS comes at an interesting time, as rumors swirl about a Pixel smartwatch, and the impending arrival of a new Qualcomm chip designed for wearables, replacing the aging Snapdragon Wear 2100.
Watches that won’t get the update
Almost all Wear OS watches will get the update, but there are five that wont. It’s based on the watches that received Android Wear 2.0 and the ones that didn’t. Here’s a list of the watches that won’t get the redesign, according to 9to5Google:
- LG G Watch
- Samsung Gear Live
- Moto 360 (2014)
- Sony Smartwatch 3
- Asus ZenWatch (1st-gen)
Update: We’ve added news of the five watches that won’t get the update to the new Wear OS.