Galaxy Watch 4 update adds sleep animals, with Google Assistant coming soon
A watch update adds body analysis improvements, more watch face designs, and sleep coaching that assigns you a little sleep animal.
Scott SteinEditor at Large
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.
ExpertiseVR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tabletsCredentials
Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Samsung's latest smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch 4, runs a new OS codeveloped with Google. But, despite promises of better Google integration, it didn't support Google Assistant when it launched. That will change soon: You'll be able to ditch Bixby and use Google Assistant in the "coming months," according to news from Samsung alongside its latest S22 phones and tablets at its latest Unpacked event.
The Watch 4 is getting a bunch of other health-related software updates starting today. The weirdest and most intriguing is sleep coaching, which Samsung says will study your sleep patterns for a week and then assign you a "sleep animal" to match individual sleep types.
The animals include: Unconcerned Lion, Sensitive Hedgehog, Nervous Penguin, Sun Averse Mole, Cautious Deer, Easygoing Walrus, Alligator On The Hunt and Exhausted Shark.
It's not at all clear what those animal types mean, and whether Samsung's coaching will keep assigning new sleep animals if your sleep patterns change. But Samsung says that the sleep coaching feature will involve filling out two surveys along with recorded sleep data, after which it will start a "four- to five-week coaching program that includes missions, checklists, sleep-related articles, meditation guidance and regular reports to support users as they work towards improving their sleep quality."
Competitors such as Fitbit (part of Google) and the Oura ring already place a heavy emphasis on sleep quality and wellness coaching. The Apple Watch does basic sleep logging, but still doesn't calculate sleep scores or rate sleep quality at all.
The Watch 4 update also adds body composition analysis insights, using a third-party app, Centr, which is a subscription-based fitness service created by Chris Hemsworth. Samsung says the extra insights are free, but deeper guidance through the separate subscription app costs extra. Samsung's body analysis sensor, which uses electrical bioimpedance, attempts to track body fat levels on-wrist, but the results were confusing to interpret when the watch was first launched last year.
The new software update will also add new coloured watch faces, which will match the additional watch straps that are also coming soon. The new watch straps will also expand to other materials: a fabric strap and steel link strap will go on sale in late February.