Google and Samsung announced a few weeks that they were teaming up to unify their wearable efforts. Details on the new Samsung-infused Wear OS are still hard to come by, but Samsung gave us our first glimpse in its Mobile World Congress video stream. The updated Wear will have Samsung’s One UI Watch skin, along with more smartphone integrations. There are even a few classic Wear OS features that are coming back.
Before Samsung teamed up with Google, it was making watches with its Tizen software. It says those devices will still get their guaranteed three years of updates, but it’s all about Wear OS going forward. While Samsung didn’t show off its new smartwatch, it did have a quick demo of several features in the new Wear.
The next Galaxy Watch will have a shrunken-down version of One UI, which has been the interface on Samsung’s phones for the last several years. That means the icons, settings, and color palette will be very similar to Samsung’s phones, at least in the case of the Galaxy Watch. Google has yet to clarify if all watchmakers will have the option to skin Wear OS now. That could make watches more varied and interesting, assuming it doesn’t wreck performance. You can see the discussion of One UI Wear in the video below at about 11 minutes.
Samsung also talked about new (and not so new) integrations with Galaxy phones. Instead of using Samsung’s Galaxy Apps store, the Galaxy Watch will rely on the Play Store. If you install an app on your phone that has a Wear version, the watch will automatically install it. This is something Wear OS used to do way back when it was called Android Wear. I always appreciated this feature, so it’s nice to see it coming back. The Play Store already has a respectable selection of watch faces, but there might be a lot more soon. Samsung says it’s going to release streamlined watch face tools this summer, allowing designers to easily release new styles. Finally, the new One UI will feature Samsung’s health monitoring tech, which was one of the primary advantages cited for the Google-Samsung combo. Wear OS has traditionally had awful health tracking, but Samsung is among the best.
Again, we don’t know if this is all exclusive to the One UI Wear skin. Google hasn’t had much to say about the new Wear, and Samsung’s unannounced 2021 Galaxy Watch will be the debut device. We might have to wait for that wearable to launch before we’ll know what to expect.
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