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Apple, watch out: Google Wear OS updates deliver more than a facelift

Google's smartwatch operating system adds a slew of new features including more and better Gmail, Spotify and WhatsApp functionality.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Wear OS new watch faces examples
Google/ZDNET

Google has announced a slew of product launches and updates at its Google I/O annual developer conference, including new features coming to Wear OS. The updates to the smartwatch operating system include more features for Google apps, new tiles, and new apps, as well as some news for developers creating watch faces.

Also: Every hardware product Google just announced at I/O 2023

Wear OS is an operating system created by Google that runs on Android-compatible smartwatches, such as the Google Pixel Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch, which are in direct competition with the Apple Watch.

WhatsApp users will have more capabilities in Wear OS than in any other wearable operating system.

Google

The competition between smartwatch manufacturers continues to heat up as WhatsApp prepares to launch its app for Wear OS in a matter of weeks, one that is not available for Apple's WatchOS. With the new Wear OS app, WhatsApp users will be able to start a new conversation, send a voice or text message, and answer calls. 

Also: The best Android smartwatches (and which ones can function without a phone)

Google is also ramping up the features of its own apps later this year, such as giving Wear OS users the ability to respond to emails in Gmail, and to do more than ever before in Google Calendar, including the option to view and RSVP to events and update task statuses. 

Easily control your smart home from your wrist.

Google

Wear OS tiles are also included in the mix, as Google prepares to add three new Spotify tiles to Wear OS, to let users quickly access their favorite podcast episodes, check out and play their Heavy Rotation, or listen to music from the Spotify DJ.

Also: Google Pixel 7a review: Meet the new best sub-$500 Android phone

A facelift for the Watch Face

Google also announced the new Watch Face Format, a declarative XML format created in partnership with Samsung to make it easier for developers and designers to build new watch faces for Wear OS 4 that are efficient, high quality, and have better longevity. 

Developers can create watch faces with the new format starting today. After developers add their new watch faces to Google Play, users that add them to their smartwatches can edit them within Wear OS itself, so developers won't have to create their own watch face editor.

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