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With a new Apple Watch weeks away, Google just gave Wear OS a much smarter interface

August 29th, 2018 at 12:21 PM
Google Wear OS update

Google is rolling out a software update over the next month for Wear OS watch users, a refresh that will bring quicker access to information and notifications, more proactive help from the Google Assistant and smarter health coaching all with just a swipe.

Dennis Troper, director of product management at Google for Wear OS, walked through the UI changes in a blog post today, which includes now being able to swipe right from the main watchface to bring up a helpful Google Assistant feed. You can also swipe up to display your notifications or swipe left to dive into Google Fit.

About the notifications display, Dennis explains that the update is meant to make it “easier to browse, dismiss or take action on your notifications with the new notification stream. Simply swipe up to see all your notifications at once. See an important message? Just tap to select a built-in smart reply without even leaving your stream. Swipe down on your watch to get quicker access to handy features and shortcuts like Google Pay or ‘Find my phone’.”

He then imagines a scenario, such as someone on the way to the airport. That person could swipe right on their Wear OS watch to pull up their flight status or hotel reservation, and once at their destination a tap on smart suggestions like the weather or restaurants near the hotel would be particularly useful. As you get ready for the day, Google Assistant might offer a helpful reminder, such as a suggestion to bring an umbrella, as well as display the day’s meetings or a warning if there’s a delay in your commute.

The Google Assistant will also suggest new features to try and of course will get more useful the more it’s, well, actually used.

We wrote just like week about the big update to Google Fit, based around two simple activity goals built from recommendations Google got from the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization — the two goals being Move Minutes and Heart Points. Google designed those goals, Dennis says, around “physical activity recommendations which are shown to have health benefits for your heart and mind.” And in the new UI, a swipe to the left can be used to start a workout or see how you’re tracking toward your goals.

Your watch will get these new features soon if you don’t have them already, but Google also says some features may vary by phone OS, watch or country.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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