The latest version of Google’s smartwatch operating system has arrived.
On Wednesday, Google introduced a redesigned Wear OS. While it’s not a total overhaul, Google added a few new features and eliminated some of the minor gripes with previous versions of the design. The new OS is more fitness-focused, and better incorporates Google’s smart assistant.
The new Wear OS is being unveiled today, but it won’t start rolling out to watches until September. Google has yet to confirm all the third-party watches the new software will be compatible with, or whether its debut will coincide with the rumoured Pixel Watch, a flagship smartwatch that would be made in-house by Google.
But for now, here’s our first look at the new features coming to the redesigned Wear OS.
It’s easier to access and use Google Assistant now.
In past versions of Wear OS (previously called Android Wear), swiping left or right on the watch screen would pull up the option to change your watch face. It was convenient, but also frustrating if you didn’t actually want to change the face (now, you’ll long press on the screen to change your watch face).
Now, swiping right will bring you to the Google Assistant screen. That screen will provide information like the date and the weather in your area, but it will also tell you things like what’s next on your calendar, the status of your flight, or what your commute looks like. Over time, Google Assistant will also start to provide smart suggestions, like recommending a restaurant near where you’re headed.
Google redesigned the Google Fit app, and that extends to the watches, too.
The redesigned Google Fit has two new goals, which you’ll find on Wear OS watches: heart points and move minutes. Heart points give you credit for getting your heart rate up, while move minutes give you credit for any time you move throughout the day, like climbing stairs or walking around the block.
On Wear OS smartwatches, you’ll now be able to see these goals, along with the rest of your activity, by swiping left. There, the new interface has activity rings similar to the Apple Watch. You’ll also be able to start a workout from that screen.
Notifications are easier to view and dismiss.
Google redesigned the notifications screen on Wear OS. Not only is it better-looking now, it’s easier to view more notifications at once and dismiss the ones you’ve already seen.
For Android users, you’ll also be able to send quick replies to texts using the built-in smart replies. Google says those quick replies will adapt to your speaking style over time.
Google added more shortcuts that are now easier to find.
On the new Wear OS, Google Pay and “find my phone” will be available as shortcuts when you swipe down from the top of the watch.
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