The Google wearable platform, Wear OS is getting more teeth when it comes to Google Assistant functionality. It is interesting to note that the new update to the Google Wear OS comes ahead of the Google I/O, which starts Tuesday. These updates ahead of the big event serve as a teaser to what the event would carry, or maybe, Google wants to reserve the event for other big announcements, and therefore, is announcing some of the updates beforehand.
Google Assistant arrived on the Android Wear just last year, and since then, the company has strived toward making it better. The latest Google Assistant update to the Google Wear OS include several key features including smart suggestions, which offers follow-up suggestions based on the context. For instance, if a user asks Google about the weather, the assistant would also follow up with additional days’ forecasts.
“With smart suggestions from the Google Assistant, you’ll be able to choose from contextually relevant follow up questions or responses to continue the conversation,” the company says in a blog post.
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Further, Google Assistant on the wearable now also offers voice answers via connected headphones. It is another of the many featured Actions that has been added to the Google Wear OS. They are always working with third parties to do more with the wearables.
The update is currently rolling out. For a smooth update, Google suggests leaving the watch on charge overnight while connected to Wi-Fi.
Along with announcing Google Assistant updates to the Wear OS, the search giant also released the name of the watches that would get the update. These include the LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style, Movado Connect, Emporio Armani Connected, most Fossil Q watches, Skagen Falster, Sofie, the Tag Heuer Connected Modular watches, the Nixon Mission, Casio Pro Trek watches, the Montblanc Summit, the ZTE Quartz, Misfit Vapor and Kate Spade Scallop among others.
Google’s efforts to give its wearable OS a new identity started when the company dropped the name “Android Wear” for “Wear OS.” Prior to changing the name, Google had been making small tweaks here and there with nothing major. The company even ignored it altogether during the last year I/O. And, to everyone’s surprise, the Android Wear watches were also removed from the Google Store.
The rebranding, however, can be seen as a promise from the company that a major overhaul is in the picture. The idea backing this decision was that once the word Android had been taken out, users would get a more realistic idea of the actions that Wear OS could perform even with the iOS.
However, it seems that people need no education about the integration of the Google Wear OS with the iPhone. According to Google’s own data, one in three new Google Wear OS watches connected to an iPhone in 2017. The search engine giant believes that the name change “better reflects our technology, vision, and most important of all — the people who wear our watches.”
Lately, the search giant has focused more on the high-profile rebranding. Along with rebranding Android Wear, the company also changed Android Pay to Google Pay last month. With the change of name, several Google payment systems came under one roof, offering a more simplified experience under a single unified name and app.
Separately, talking of the features that users want in the Wear OS, the number one is better battery life. One of the major concerns that Google Wear OS users have is the battery life. Having 4G, Wi-Fi and lots of apps is good, but the lack of battery power ruins the experience. Often the battery falls short of performing basic functions. The Wear OS is based on the Android, which lacks proper battery management skills.
The Wear OS is not created from scratch; rather it has been created from Android by removing some features and adding others. As a result, to see the accurate time, users often have to plug in their watches to a power source. With Google I/O just around the corner, having an energy-saving feature that runs only the clock and pedometer in case of a low battery would be a nice add-on.
The Google I/O conference would mostly be about the AI-based camera app, Google Lens. Previously, LG hinted that the search giant could announce new features for its camera app at the event. The South Korean electronics giant revealed that Google would add support for a dedicated physical button for the Lens app on Android smartphones. The button would also work as the Google assistant button.
“A single tap of this button will launch the Google Assistant while two quick taps will launch Google Lens, a first on any phone. Users can also hold down the button to start talking to the Google Assistant,” LG said.
From the description, the new button sounds more like the Bixby button on Samsung smartphones such as Galaxy S9. We will not have to wait much to know what’s coming. Google I/O 2018 will begin on May 8 and will run through May 10.