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How the Google Wear OS update improves its watches

A few new gestures make Google's watch software a lot cleaner to use. Take a tour.

Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott Stein
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Scott Stein
Wear OS watch
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There are a lot of Google Wear OS-compatible watches out there. The new Wear OS software update should improve the experience for you. It did for me.

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I tried an early version on a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, paired to a Fossil Q Explorist HR watch.

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In the watch face, Wear OS now has swipe gestures for each direction that bring up new things. Swipe down, and a larger control panel of shortcuts (and music player access) are helpful.

Wear OS watch
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Notifications are more compressed. Swipe up, and it's easier to scroll through them. There's less chance of missing something.

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Google Fit is redesigned, and accessed with a swipe-left. The new goal rings are based on movement and heart rate (daily activity and more active minutes).

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The preset activity goals feel too forgiving for me, but they're adjustable. It's still better than Google Fit used to be.

Wear OS watch
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Swipe right, and Google Assistant is there. Voice requests can be made with a tap, and there are some suggested results that automatically pop up.

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If you have patience, Google Assistant on-wrist is by far the best assistant versus Siri or Samsung's Bixby.

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Google Assistant search results are a little hard to scroll through sometimes, but Assistant also brings up suggested search steps afterward in little clickable boxes.

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As always, there are plenty of random and sometimes good watch faces in Wear OS. That's still the same.

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Watch faces and complications on the watch faces remain the same since last year, but you can't swipe left or right to swap faces anymore. Instead, pressing and holding on a face is the only way to select.

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The same goes for app access: Press the side button, and a scrollable list of apps is on tap.

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Wear OS works on Android phones, and also iPhones. But iPhone users are far better off using an Apple Watch.

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The Fossil Q Explorist is a solid example of current-generation Wear OS-compatible watches: It has NFC payments and heart rate, which last year's Android Wear watches often lacked.

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If you're curious, here's a look at just the watch. Full review to come. But if you have an Android Wear/Wear OS watch currently, the new Wear OS update is a big help for easier at-a-glance access.

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Take a look at a few more pictures of the Google Wear OS update.

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Wear OS watch
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