Google today announced a few new features for Wear OS we can expect from the next over-the-air update, which is slated to arrive this fall.
The focus here, Google says, is on fundamentals, and that includes improved performance, with up to 20% speed improvements for app startup times, for example.
The company also said it would improve the pairing process and that we’ll see UI improvements with “more intuitive controls for managing different watch modes and workouts.” What exactly that will look like isn’t clear, though, as Google didn’t provide any details of the changes.
One feature that Google talked about though is a new hand-washing timer it is releasing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike Apple’s automatic hand-washing timer in watchOS, Google’s feature is not hands-free and you have to tap a dedicated tile to trigger it, which sadly makes it less likely that users will actually regularly use it (but you’re already singing “Happy Birthday” twice while you’re washing your hands anyway, right?).
Wear OS is also getting a new weather experience that will be easier to read on the go, providing an hourly forecast and access to local weather alerts.
The Wear OS team notes that it also plans to bring “the best of Android 11” to wearables. For developers, that mostly means being able to use the latest Android developer tools to build their Wear OS apps. What exactly it means for users also remains to be seen.
While we’re still waiting for Google to release its own watch, the company today noted that a number of new watch OEMs have recently signed on Wear OS, including Oppo, Suunto and Xiaomi.