Samsung a few hours ago confirmed long-standing rumors that its future smartwatches will separate Tizen and run Wear OS instead, but it turns out there was more to the story.
On Google IO, it has been revealed that Google and Samsung are actually teaming up to make Wear OS great again. Or rather, be amazing for the first time since the beginning. For this, it needs to pair its app ecosystem with good battery life, something Samsung knows a thing or two about.
Google also promises that you’ll see faster performance with apps launching 30% faster on the latest chipsets with smooth UI animations and motion. For longer battery life, the lower layers of the operating system are optimized to take advantage of lower-power hardware cores. This means you can run the heart rate sensor all day, track your sleep and then still have the battery for the next day.
Wear OS device manufacturers are now able to add a “customized user experience” on top of the platform. It seems that Google finally realized that this is one of the big things that got Android to where it is with phones. So Samsung will sell you a Wear OS Galaxy Watch running One UI, etc. This differentiation probably also means that updates are now handled by the OEMs (at least those who choose to develop their own skins on top of the Wear OS), which in this scenario can be a very good thing considering how few and far between Google’s Wear OS updates have been.
Double-clicking one of the buttons on your watch allows you to shortcut to important functions, such as switching to your previous app. And there will be more ways to customize your home screen carousel with tiles from apps.
Google is also working on redesigning and improving Maps and Assistant for your wrist. In addition, Google Pay will start working on smartwatches in 26 new countries in addition to the 11 where it is already available. YouTube Music arrives at Wear OS “later in the year” with features like smart downloads where subscribers can enjoy music on the go.
The new Wear OS update also brings some Fitbit things to battle, like tracking your health progress during your day and celebrations on your wrist.
New tools for developers also come as a Tiles API and a Samsung-built dial design editor. These should make it easier to develop new experiences on portable devices. New and rebuilt apps from Strava, adidas Running, Bitmoji and many more are also coming soon. All of these things are rolling out “later this year”.