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Google and Samsung partner for major Wear OS update — look out, Apple Watch

Google and Samsung partnering to combine Wear OS and Tizen
(Image credit: Google)

While there was no mention of a Pixel Watch at the Google I/O 2021 keynote today, the company had plenty to say about Wear OS with what they are calling the biggest update ever for the platform.

The biggest news is that the next generation of Wear OS is created in partnership with Samsung and looks to incorporate the best of Tizen with the best of Wear OS. So what exactly does that mean for users?

Battery life on Wear OS isn't catastrophically bad, but users will typically have to charge their devices every day much like the Apple Watch. Samsung's Galaxy Watch with Tizen, on the other hand, can last about four days on a charge, a transformational difference for a device that you are potentially relying on to track all of your activity and sleep.

Speed was another major component of this update with Google claiming that apps will now load 30% faster. While some of the woes of Wear OS in the past have been attributable to a lack of a suitable processor from Qualcomm, the OS itself wasn't helping matters. Delays on a platform meant to be saving you time by giving you glanceable information without are unacceptable; these updates should help that problem.

Wear OS update overview at Google I/O

(Image credit: Google)

On the subject of glanceable information, Google also covered the rollout of its 3rd-party Tiles API that will let any developer create quick tiles to show users relevant information that can then easily be swiped away. According to Google, this has been one of the most popular features for Wear OS users as makes navigation more pleasant while reducing friction when interacting with the wearable.

Google is opening greater capabilities with Wear OS with improved support for turn-by-turn navigation without a phone, Google Pay in 37 countries, support in over 200 public transit systems, and downloading music on the go without a phone. 

Google's acquisition of Fitbit is finally paying dividends for Wear OS with features like tracking health progress throughout the day and on-wrist celebrations to help inspire users throughout the day. Fitbit will be working on Wear OS hardware in the future as well, presumably, this is separate from the Pixel Watch, but no specific details were provided. 

All of these updates are coming to Wear OS this fall, which is when rumors suggest we will see the Pixel Watch.