Samsung, Google expand Wear OS partnership with the arrival of Assistant and Play apps

It’s been a little under a year since Google and Samsung announced a joint wearables effort aimed at taking on Apple’s utter dominance of the category. It’s been clear from the beginning that such an effort wouldn’t happen overnight. Back in August, we got the first glimpse at “the new Wear OS Powered by Samsung,” as part of the Galaxy Watch 4 launch.

The company’s wearable line didn’t get a lot of love at today’s Unpacked event — the company had more than enough to talk about on the mobility front. But we’ve gotten more insight into what’s coming down the road for Samsung’s current Tizen/Wear OS hybrid approach to the category.

Today Google announced that Assistant will be arriving on Samsung’s latest wearable in “coming months.” It is, perhaps, the latest data point in the slow sad end of the company’s Bixby ambitions (though that assistant lives on in the device), though frankly embracing the far more robust — and ubiquitous — Google Assistant makes a lot of sense across the hardware maker’s platforms.

Image Credits: Google

For the Galaxy Watch 4, that means things like playing music and setting timers with a “Hey Google.” The app will be among those accessible on the watch via the Google Play store. As part of the integration, available Play apps will begin to appear on the Watch when downloaded to a connected Android handset. From there, users can tap to install them on the smartwatch.

Currently, the device supports YouTube Music Premium through online listening, though part of the new update will bring song streaming via Wi-Fi and cellular, so users can leave their phone home and keep listening to new songs. That’s coming to both the Galaxy Watch 4 and additional Wear OS devices in an unspecified time frame.

This is all still baby steps on this integration — nothing ready to topple Apple’s dominance in the category any time soon. But between Google and Samsung’s partnership and the former’s acquisition of Fitbit and further plans to grow out Wear OS, it’s shaping up to be a fun year for the wearables space.