At Google I/O 2023 today, Google has announced the next major update that will be coming to Wear OS, its wearables platform. These are some pretty big changes so if you happen to own a Wear OS smartwatch, then these are some of the changes and improvements you can look forward to.
Improved support for third-party apps
For starters, one of the new features you can look forward to comes in the form of new and improved support for third-party apps. We previously reported that the latest WhatsApp beta revealed support for Wear OS, and that will be one of the apps that users can expect in the update.
There will also be improvements made to existing Wear OS apps such as Spotify, which will now feature new tiles that users can use to quickly access new episodes from their favorite podcasts, see what’s in their rotation, or start a new Spotify DJ experience. Peloton’s Wear OS smartwatch will also be part of this update, where the app will support tracking activity when used together with the company’s equipment, as well as a new tile that shows the wearer’s weekly workout at a glance.
Better Google app experience
While improved support for third-party apps are welcome, those who rely heavily on Google’s products and services from their watch can also look forward to improvements. This includes brand new smart controls for the Google Home app, where users can use their watch for 2FA purposes with smart locks, and control them via the watch itself.
Google will also be bringing new Gmail experiences to Wear OS, allowing users to manage their inbox as well as reply to emails directly from their smartwatch. For those who use Google Calendar, the update will also allow users to schedule events from their watch, check event details, and respond to them like making an RSVP, as well as access Tasks and mark them as complete.
So far it seems that one of the focuses of Wear OS 4 will be on apps, but there will also be improvements and changes made to the overall platform. For starters, Google will be better optimizing the Wear OS 4 update so that it will be more energy efficient. One of the chief complaints of Wear OS devices is its battery, so hopefully this update will address that.
There will also be new and improved accessibility features, like a new text-to-speech engine that is faster and more reliable. There will also be better backup and restore support where users can switch between phones and watches without having to factory reset their watch everytime they do so.
Last but not least, Google has announced new tools for developers that they made in collaboration with Samsung that will allow developers to create brand new watch faces, opening up a lot more customization for Wear OS users.