Google announced this morning at its annual developer conference that Wear OS 4 is officially slated for release later this year, plus a host of changes for Wear OS 3.
For Wear OS 4, Google highlights improved battery life for devices, new and improved accessibility features, as well as what might be the biggest feature introduction in Wear OS history (not hyperbole) — backup and restore support that allows a user to switch a phone or watch without having to factory reset the watch. Game changer.
On the accessibility side, Google mentions a faster and more reliable text-to-speech experience, though a lot of the other Wear OS 4 features have yet to be shared. One piece detailed in full is the new Watch Face Format, built in partnership with Samsung. This software allows developers and designers to easily create watch faces for Wear OS 4, so we can already presume the watch face game on Wear OS 4 is going to be fantastic.
According to Google, Watch Face Format is a declarative XML format to design the appearance and behavior of watch faces, meaning there is no code involved in creating a watch face, perfect for people like me who have great ideas for a watch face, but not a single ounce of coding experience to bring them to life. “The Wear OS platform takes care of the logic needed to render the watch face so you no longer have to worry about code optimizations or battery performance, ” as explained in Google’s post.
Starting today, anyone can access the latest version of Samsung’s Watch Face Studio, which allows you to create watch faces for both Wear OS 3 and Wear OS 4. Watch faces you create today will automatically support Wear OS 4’s Watch Face Format later this year, so feel free to go have some fun.
For anyone already wearing a Wear OS device and not looking too far to the future, Google has changes for you, too. Thanks to updates to numerous Google apps, your Wear OS device will soon be able to see who rang your Nest doorbell, remote unlock your doors, access Gmail and Calendar information for Workspace accounts, as well as handle many Google Calendar tasks for general Google account users. For example, you’ll be able to view and RSVP to events, check schedules, and update task statuses all from your smartwatch.
Other changes coming to the watch are also thanks to 3rd-party app updates, such as WhatsApp and Spotify. For example, as soon as WhatsApp launches its official Wear OS app (coming soon), users will be able to start new conversations, reply to messages by voice, as well as answer calls all without needing to pick up your phone.
Be on the lookout for these app updates and changes soon. And as for Wear OS 4, we can’t wait to learn more about that.