While it’s hard to say that Wear OS is innovating the wearables field, in the past year it’s done quite a bit of catching up. Today, Google’s announcing a few new updates to the Google Fit and Wear OS that should help close the gap between it and other smartwatch platforms.
For starters, both Google Fit iOS and Android apps are getting a homescreen to act as a hub for various health and fitness data. The Google Fit app, while simple and easy to use, had somewhat fallen behind trends in recent years. Apple’s Health app, the Samsung Health app, and Fitbit’s app all treat their homescreens as data hubs, full of tiles for a summarized breakdown of your general activity. Google Fit, however, was a little more basic. According to Google, the new homescreen adds the ability to track things like your heart rate, weight, and blood pressure trends over time. You can also more easily share (cough humblebrag cough) Google Fit journal entries to social media or in messaging apps.
If you have a sleep tracker or use a sleep app, you’ll also be able to view more detailed information about how well you slept and view sleep stages as well. Back in June, Google also introduced bedtime schedules on Android phones—and it looks like that feature is also coming to Google Fit. As for compatible trackers, Google says you can use devices such as the Fossil Gen 5E, the Oura Ring, the Withings Sleep mat, and apps like Sleep As Android and Sleep Cycles.
Again, these are things we’ve seen in other platforms, particularly Fitbit, for a while now. However, it’s nice to see Google Fit finally get a major redesign.
On Wear OS, Google is revamping its Workouts tile, while adding Weather and Breathe tiles. Bless. If you’re unfamiliar with tiles, they’re Google’s term for widgets or screens that offer a shortcut to an app—similar to what Samsung does in its Tizen OS. For the Workouts tile, there are finally shortcuts so you can your exercise session started more quickly. That, and Google is making it easier to read metrics on a single screen. Lastly, you’ll also be able to set goals and get pace alerts.
Google announced the weather tile was coming earlier this year. It’s easier to read and gets hourly updates, such as precipitation alerts. Not super exciting, but I’m never going to say no to helpful weather tiles. Lastly, Wear OS is finally getting a Breathe tile for guided breathing sessions. A nice perk is that at the end of each session, you’ll also be able to view how your heart rate changed as well as recaps of your weekly sessions.
None of these updates are particularly revolutionary. Cynically speaking, it’s another example of how far Wear OS has lagged behind that the platform is getting these updates just now. But from a more optimistic standpoint, it’s encouraging to see more regular updates to Wear OS. In 2020, Google was one of the first to add a handwashing timer, and in August, the company announced performance updates that would make Wear OS snappier to use. Qualcomm also introduced the new Snapdragon Wear 4100/4100+ platform, which should improve battery life, lead to faster performance, and hopefully enable some more advanced features. And while the Fitbit acquisition is still pending, all these things seem to signal that Google hasn’t left Wear OS for dead. At the very least, these updates might at least level the playing field and provide more options for Android users that aren’t tied to Samsung phones.