Google’s smartwatch operating system, Wear OS is getting an all new look soon. Once called the Android Wear, the platform no longer, and rightly so, feels like Android on a smartwatch. It seems Google has finally understood that what people want on their wrist is not a phone replacement. They want a reliable daily assistant and coach that is fast and unobtrusive, and Google has finally shown an intent to deliver that.
Wear OS makeover
Wear OS is getting a much needed makeover which cleans-up and refines most of the loose points from the previous releases. It’s the third major release of the platform, and the first since Google rebranded Android Wear into Wear OS. The latest release brings substantial changes in the UI, and a bunch of other stuff, making it easier to get to apps and switch watchfaces. For instance, swiping left or right currently changes the watchface of your watch. But with the new update, those gestures will do something else for you, and you’ll need to do something else to change watchfaces.
Here’s what the following gestures will do under the new system:
- Swipe left: Google Fit
- Swipe right: Feed of information from Google Assistant
- Swipe up: Notifications
- Swipe down: Quick Settings
- Long press on the watchface: Change watchface
- Short press the main button: Installed apps list
- Long press the main button: Launch Google Assistant
Let’s go through some of these changes in details.
Swipe left: Google Fit
Google recently revamped the Google Fit, introducing two rings, one for “move minutes” and the other for “heart points”. “Move minutes” is meant to offer a better metric than simple steps as it can capture several different activities. Also, walking might not be the best option for some people. “Heart points” is designed to encourage people to engage in activities that will still get their heart rate up but don’t necessarily require a trip to the gym. Google says the rings are informed by health recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Under the new Wear OS update, swiping left from the main watchface will show you these two rings, and on a round screen, they look pretty good too.
Swipe right: Feed of information from Google Assistant
This is probably the most important change Wear OS is seeing this time around. Similar to the “visual snapshot” feature that was recently added to Google Assistant on phones, this new feature will show you relevant info about your day, like your flight status, calendar details, and the weather. Google is referring to this feed as “proactive” help, and you can launch it just by swiping right on your wrist.
Swipe up: Notifications
Google is rolling a step backwards when it comes to reading notifications, but it’s still a welcome change. Currently, you have to go from one notification to the next in order to find one particular notification. But with the new changes, you’ll get an information-dense display that puts all your notifications on a single, scrollable pane.
Like before, you bring up the new notifications feed by swiping up, and they operate basically the same as well.
Swipe down: Quick Settings
Google has also slightly revamped the Quick Settings pane. It adds two new buttons: one for finding your phone and another for Google Pay. This is once again a welcome change considering that many Wear OS watches come with NFC these days and a Google Pay button will be handy there.
It’s not entirely clear as to what version number the new Wear OS will be getting. Google, in fact, has remained a bit quiet regarding the update, capping-off another quiet year for the platform. Google is, of course, not totally to blame for Wear OS being incompetent against the likes of Apple Watch, or even Samsung’s Tizen. It all boils down to the operating system and also the PROCESSOR, which hasn’t seen any upgrade for more than two years now.
However, that might be a past soon, as Qualcomm has set the date of September 10 to unveil something big. And we seriously hope it’s the Snapdragon Wear 3100 SoC for Wear OS. Exciting times ahead for Wear OS enthusiasts.