The Pixel Watch is proof that Wear OS isn’t bad, it just needs a lot of work

The Pixel Watch is proof that Wear OS isn’t bad, it just needs a lot of work

A Google Pixel Watch sits on a yoga mat and displays a user's activity stats on a default watch face.

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

For a very long time, the overall consensus amongst Wear OS watch customers was that the platform wasn’t that good. Stuttering, slowness, bizarre bugs, frequent disconnections from the cellphone, and the absence of a correctly built-in health and well being service had been some of the primary causes for that pondering. Not to say Google’s on-again-off-again relationship with the platform, with updates in the future and neglect the following.

Then the Google-Samsung partnership and the Galaxy Watch 4 occurred, which is indicative of Google’s long-term dedication to Wear OS on an summary degree and the platform’s not-so-suckiness on a concrete degree. It was one of the primary examples that watches utilizing Google’s software program may truly be {smooth}, responsive and aggressive in opposition to the perfect of the perfect smartwatches.

Wear OS on the Pixel Watch feels extra mature and steady than ever. But it is nonetheless behind.

One 12 months later, the Galaxy Watch 5 strengthened that impression, however it’s undoubtedly the Pixel Watch that cemented it. Even with out Samsung’s bells and whistles, Wear OS feels extra mature and steady than it ever has. The Pixel Watch is the primary time I’ve actually loved utilizing an Android-based smartwatch, and I can lastly see a lot of promise in Wear OS. The drawback is that each facet of it needs a little one thing additional – some variety of apparent enchancment or function addition that ought to have already been there.

When all the things clicks collectively

Google Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel Watch and Pixel Buds Pro

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

In my eight years of utilizing varied Wear OS watches, the Pixel Watch is my first time experiencing a stutter-free expertise. The Galaxy Watch 4 got here shut, however nonetheless lagged behind in some locations. In distinction, Google’s new watch is quick, buttery-smooth, and hasn’t proven me a single hiccup or shaky second in over a month of use. The major interface is simple to get used to with easy swipes, one button and an intuitive rotating crown. Even Google Assistant is quick and correct – so long as you are linked to the cellphone (extra on this in a bit).

The built-in Fitbit exercise monitoring is additionally spot on, with stairs, steps, sleep, coronary heart price and varied workout routines all tracked with out me lifting a finger.

The Pixel Watch provides the smoothest Wear OS expertise I’ve seen and integrates effectively into Google’s ecosystem.

Google additionally made certain that the Pixel Watch integrates effectively into its personal ecosystem. The digicam shutter controller is helpful for taking some photographs remotely with my Pixel 7 Pro, the Google Pixel Buds Pro immediately hook up with the watch as a result of they’re already paired with my cellphone, and a few apps (like Google Maps and Citymapper) routinely switch navigation instructions from my cellphone’s display to the watch’s display. Notification sounds additionally sync fairly effectively between cellphone and watch. When I put on the watch, it vibrates whereas the cellphone stays silent; when i am not carrying it the cellphone begins pinging as a substitute.

Overall, the expertise appears strong, however that’s about it. There’s nothing new with Wear OS 3.5, and there hasn’t been something new with Wear OS for years now. While rivals like Samsung and Apple are including options and enhancing the ecosystem integration between their smartwatches and telephones, Google is giving us a sturdy basis that lacks a million additional items.

Look out for all of the lacking options

Google Home app on the Pixel Watch showing the notification to open the app on the phone for more controls

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Every time I exploit an app or function on my Pixel Watch, I’m aggravated by one thing lacking. Take Google Maps, for instance: The Wear OS app would not help transit instructions, and you’ll’t even get transit notifications from the cellphone app to seem in your watch. Or in the event you open a Google Calendar occasion with an assigned location in your watch, you possibly can’t faucet that location to navigate to it – regardless of the navigation technique.

Messaging apps just like the default Google Messages or WhatsApp lack GIF and voice memo help. If you and your mates/household use it a lot, you usually have to achieve to your cellphone to have a dialog, which negates the advantages of messaging on a watch. (In my private remark, the use of voice observe is fairly excessive amongst individuals who converse in languages ​​apart from English, particularly languages ​​with non-Latin alphabets.)

Every little facet of Wear OS is nonetheless missing in a single type or one other. Even Google’s apps are lacking necessary options.

Other built-in apps additionally lack easy options. Google Wallet can not present loyalty playing cards or present playing cards. The Google Home app would not allow you to arrange sensible units or pin probably the most used ones to the highest. Google Assistant can do squat with out a connection to the cellphone – even when the watch itself has a Wi-Fi connection, you possibly can’t set a easy timer with voice.

Even the Fitbit options, which I’d have anticipated to be high of the road given Google’s buy of Fitbit, depart a lot to be desired. There’s no energetic train recognition whilst you’re within the center of an exercise, no interval monitoring, and lots of stats are phone-bound for now. For instance, the each day readiness rating, stress administration, respiration price, water and meals logging, and extra are merely absent from the wrist app.

Despite a strong ecosystem integration, some apparent options of totally different units with telephones, computer systems and audio system are nowhere to be discovered.

On the ecosystem facet, Google’s integrations really feel like a one-step-forward, two-step-back deal. There is no cross-device unlocking to your Android cellphone or Chromebook along with your watch. Do not disturb settings can’t be synchronized between cellphone and watch, nor can sleep mode. You do not get a pleasant nudge to open the digicam controller in your wrist if you launch the digicam in your cellphone. Any Google Cast controls on your house’s sensible audio system do not seem on the watch for straightforward controls.

Finally, Google’s personal Wear OS implementation is nonetheless fairly weak on the customization entrance. We ought to have extra watch face kinds and designs, extra colours and extra app tiles. (I’d wish to see one for reminders, eg a world clock, Citymapper and Todoist.) I additionally want choices to pin my most used apps to the app listing, and customized button shortcuts to rapidly launch my favourite apps.

What do you assume of Wear OS?

12 votes

Time for some fast and large updates

A Google Pixel Watch rests next to a Galaxy Watch 5 pro.

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The Pixel Watch left me with a lot of conflicting emotions, however the obvious one is this conflict between my awe at how good the Wear OS expertise might be when it works and my annoyance at all the things that’s nonetheless lacking. There is a strong basis right here, however it needs to be mined as quickly as attainable.

Part of me needs to forgive Google as a result of this is its first smartwatch, whereas the opposite just cannot overlook the very fact that we’re not within the early days of Wear OS in any respect. The platform was launched eight years in the past and we’re already at model 3.5; the very fact that we’re joyful that it is lastly in a usable state and that we’ve a strong basis is frankly unhappy. Meanwhile, the competitors has additionally moved miles forward.

This isn’t Google’s first rodeo, regardless of how a lot the corporate needs us to assume it is. Some main updates must be as quickly as attainable.

Since we won’t contemplate this Google’s first rodeo, the corporate needs to catch up and catch up rapidly. We’ve been promised annual Wear OS updates, even quarterly Pixel phone-like options for the watch, so it stays to be seen if Google is in a position to take benefit of these updates to place its smartwatch platform on par with Samsung and Apple.

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