Google previews Wear OS 4 with better battery life, third-party watch face support

At Google’s I/O developer conference today, the company previewed the next version of its smartwatch operating system, Wear OS 4. The new release promises to bring improved battery life and accessibility features, an easier way to swap out your phone or watch without having to reset the device, and new tools for building watch faces in collaboration with Samsung.

The new Watch Face Format — a declarative XML format — will allow developers to build new Wear OS watch faces and publish them to Google Play, starting today. With this new design language, developers will be able to create both digital and analog watch faces, including those with complications and other customizable elements, Google says. (More on that here).

The new OS will also introduce battery life improvements and new and improved accessibility features, like a new text-to-speech engine that’s quicker and more reliable, Google says.

Watch owners will have an easier time when switching out their watch for a new one, too. With backup and restore support, Wear OS watch owners will be able to securely transfer their data and settings from an old watch to a new one. Or, if they’re setting up a watch from their phone, any permissions on their phone will carry over to the watch.

Google says it will have more to share about Wear OS in the months ahead, but it’s now releasing the Wear OS 4 developer preview and emulator, so developers can start preparing for the Wear OS 4 launch later this year.

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