Google had all but abandoned its smartwatch platform until Samsung stepped in last year to help build Wear OS 3. Now the company finally seems open to tackling the problems its user have been complaining about for years, starting with support for left-handed users.
A member of Google’s team appears to have confirmed a Wear OS update that will let you use your smartwatch upside-down, or flipped 180 degrees (via Android Authority). This is particularly useful for lefties who typically wear watches on their right hand with the buttons facing toward their body—in a less accessible and potentially uncomfortable position.
Soon, it seems, this oft-neglected group can stop using third-party apps designed to fix this problem and will instead be able to flip the watch upside-down so those buttons face toward their wrist and can be easily pressed with their other hand.
“Our development team has implemented the feature you have requested and will be available on future new devices,” an unknown Google user commented.
Before we give Google too much credit, a quick scroll up on this thread reveals that the first complaint was submitted in April 2018, and Google didn’t say a word while dozens of customers requested the same seemingly trivial fix for the past 3.5 years. Some of those folks claimed to have switched to the Apple Watch or promised to not buy a Wear OS device until the problem was addressed.
And to make matters worse, the Google employee specifically states the feature would be available only on “future new devices,” not as a patch rolled out to existing smartwatches.
“If you wanted to push people towards google wear devices, you’re not doing a very good job of it,” one person responded. “This is a simple feature that should be able to ve [sic] implemented on older devices through a small patch.”
In contrast, the original Apple Watch from 2015 could be used upside down, making it easier for lefties to fiddle with important functions using the crown—the only minor compromise being that the button drops to the bottom of the watch when you flip it around.
Wear OS 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 signal a renewal of Google’s struggling smartwatch platform, but forcing a group (roughly 10%, we can assume) of customers to buy a new watch after ignoring years of complaints is exactly why Google finds itself in this position in the first place.
We’ve reached out to Google to confirm the upcoming feature and ask why it won’t be coming to existing smartwatches. We’ll update this article when we learn more.