It’s been almost a year since Google announced Wear OS 3 at Google IO 2021. And in that time, the new platform has been making its way to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4with other eligible devices is expected to “roll out the update from mid to second half of 2022”.
Wear OS 3 on the Galaxy Watch 4 marked a big step forward for Google’s Wear OS. But even though the Galaxy Watch 4 has received plenty of praise, Google still has plenty of opportunities to improve on what it has already done.
With rumors swirling of a possible Google Pixel Watch in the pipeline, Wear OS will be its base, which means we could see both appear at Google IO 2022 in May. And if Google wants to be a serious smartwatch challenger, there are some things we think it should do to make Wear OS as good as it can be.
One of the most obvious omissions from the Galaxy Watch 4 is Google Assistant. It’s likely that Samsung has made the decision to stick with its own virtual assistant, Bixby. Although a message from Verizon (spotted by 9to5Google) about an upcoming system update suggested that Google Assistant support is on the way to this watch, this has been contradicted by Google.
We expect Google Assistant to make its way to Wear OS 3 at some point, especially on devices that don’t have a Bixby equivalent available. But we really want to see that happen sooner rather than later.
Just as importantly, we’re hoping to see Google Assistant use the same on-device processing that’s offered on Pixel Phones. While it depends to some extent on the hardware that supports it, on-device processing means Google Assistant is faster and doesn’t necessarily need an internet connection at all times to complete tasks. This, in turn, could make it less power hungry.
Battery life remains one of the biggest concerns that smartwatch users have to deal with. A Apple Watch Series 7, for example, offers “up to” 18 hours of battery life between charges. If you’re lucky, on some devices you might be able to go more than a day between charges. But it’s highly unlikely you can manage more than two days, especially if you want to use your watch to its full potential.
That’s why we really want Wear OS to be as efficient as possible and extend battery life. Optimized software can go a long way in extending the battery life of a smartwatch. And going over the two-day mark between charges, at a minimum, would be a big boost.
Better iPhone compatibility
It is important to recognize that Google has made progress in this area. Previously, iPhone users couldn’t even dream of using a non-Apple Watch with their iPhone. But since 2018, when Android Wear became Wear OS, the experience has improved dramatically.
Even though it’s much better than before, it’s still far from perfect. A quick look at the app store shows a rating of 1.9 out of 5 for the Wear OS app. Commonly cited issues include the app simply not working, or disconnecting and then refusing to reconnect. There are also complaints about Wear OS watch batteries draining faster than they should when paired with an iPhone.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to find friction when a Google device tries to interact with an Apple device. But given that these are fundamentally mature technologies now, we should see better than that.
The days of manufacturers trapping people into their ecosystem should be over. And consumers should be able to wear the smartwatch of their choice, without instantly encountering problems when using it.
We hope Wear OS 3 will make great strides in this area.
One area where Apple has been far ahead of almost everyone else has been in fitness tracking. But since Google has completed the acquisition of Fitbit over a year ago, we hope he found a way to fully integrate all that expertise into Wear OS.
Just consider everything WatchOS can support: sleep, heart rate, ECG, hand washing, cardio fitness, and fall detection. The Galaxy Watch can support blood pressure monitoring. the Fitbit Charge 5 can look for electrodermal activity to monitor stress levels, skin temperature, breathing rate, and blood oxygen levels. You can even track your menstrual cycle.
The thing is, there are tons of health monitoring features that Wear OS has to offer if it’s going to be considered a viable competitor to what’s already out there. And if a (Google-owned) Fitbit can offer these features, surely there’s no reason they should be overlooked on Wear OS?
Simplified backup and restore functionality
One of the biggest criticisms of Wear OS has been how clunky it is if you want to set up your watch on a new device. It is not always the case that a user has perfectly synchronized the change of his handset at the same time as he obtains a new portable. One often lasts longer than the other. And, as we know, accidents happen.
Usually, if you want to pair your Wear OS watch with a new device, you need to factory reset it. That means you’ll have to spend time adjusting all your settings, customizing your apps, and choosing your watch faces. It’s slow, laborious and much more work than necessary.
the Verizon Post we referenced earlier shows how this issue will be fixed on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. With Samsung Smart Switch, watch owners will be able to back up and restore their watch settings before pairing them with a new phone.
But it has to be a Wear OS feature, no matter what watch you’re wearing or what phone you’re using.
Hopefully Google will let us know what Wear OS 3 has in store for us. Google IO 2022. And we’ll see how many of these features, if any, have been implemented.