A month ago today, Google announced an update to Wear OS which would take it from the stinking state of “barely usable” to something much more user friendly. I opined about the currently awful state of smartwatches (i.e. without this promised update) and it seems that there’s a good many people who agree – Wear OS as it currently stands is a bit of a stinker.
However, news out of the US this morning is that Google’s promised Wear OS 2.1 update is coming right now, and just about all Android Wear / Wear OS smartwatches should receive it in coming days. What will we see? Here’s the main new features:
- Swiping left and right no longer changes watchfaces – you can long press to do that.
- Swiping down reveals revamped quick settings.
- Swiping up shows notifications (kind of like it does now)
- Google Fit is accessed by a dedicated swipe to the left.
- Google Assistant is readily accessible with a swipe to the right.
These small changes will address many – but not all – of the issues with the current crop of smartwatches. Better fitness integration is a solid move, along with social fitness features to encourage people to get up and move around. Whether this update can address other pain points – slow OS response, lag between apps, missing notifications, calls coming through slowly, and ordinary battery life – remains to be seen.
There’s no reason Google couldn’t optimise its bloated wearable OS a bit better than they have, and it’d certainly be a welcome improvement.
A few watches won’t be receiving Wear OS 2.1, but if you’re still rocking one of these, you’re probably not surprised:
- LG G Watch
- Samsung Gear Live
- Original Moto 360
- Sony Smartwatch 3
- Original Asus ZenWatch
While you can Check for Updates on Wear OS, it’s kind of like the pedestrian crossing button – it’s there to make users feel good rather than actually polling for an update. However, press it anyway – go to Settings > System > About > System Updates, and see if Wear OS 2.1 is there for you.
On my Huawei Watch 2, it hasn’t arrived yet, but I’ll keep checking.