Wear OS 5 is the way forward for Android smartwatches. Here’s what’s new

A person wearing the Google Pixel Watch 2.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

With the Google I/O 2024 opening keynote having come and gone yesterday, showcasing Google’s numerous AI initiatives with Gemini AI and extra, information in regards to the Wear OS took second fiddle — till now. After revealing that Wear OS grew its person base by 40% in 2023, Google has simply introduced Wear OS 5, together with a slew of latest watch face updates and health-tracking options.

Here’s what’s new.

Wear OS 5

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 Enduro and the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Wear OS 5 is anticipated to reach later this yr, however the Developer Preview has already given us a good suggestion of what to anticipate. One of the most important focuses is enhanced battery life, which has lengthy been a grievance of smartwatch customers. Google says efficiency has improved, with improved workout-tracking effectivity. Running a marathon on Wear OS 5 ought to devour as much as 20% much less energy than Wear OS 4.

Google can also be encouraging builders to launch extra power-efficient apps on Wear OS, with a brand new information on the right way to preserve energy and battery. It’s uncommon that you’ve got a Wear OS watch that may final greater than a full day of use, so it’s good to see Google taking that subject severely.

Wear OS watch face updates

Someone wearing the Google Pixel Watch 2 with a yellow/green fabric band.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The new Watch Face Format was first launched on Wear OS 4, eradicating the necessity for executable code when making a watch face. This is extra geared for builders, however watch faces following the brand new Watch Face Format ought to require much less upkeep and fewer updates than these constructed with the Jetpack Watch Face libraries. According to Google, 30% of the watch faces on the Google Play Store already use the format, and Google now has the subsequent model of Watch Face Format prepared for Wear OS 5.

Sample watch faces created with Watch Face Format.
Sample watch faces created with Watch Face Format. Google

Among the options you get within the Watch Face Format are Flavors, Complications, and Weather. With Flavors, builders now have preset configurations for the watch face, letting builders and customers configure enticing mixtures of watch faces. Complications have additionally been added, permitting builders to indicate progress towards objectives and weighted parts. At a look, climate knowledge can also be lastly accessible on Watch Format, permitting customers to see climate knowledge for the subsequent hour, day, and past.

As a part of its technique to encourage builders to ditch the JetPack libraries, Google is imposing restrictions on Complications for watch faces utilizing the outdated APIs. There are additionally Google Play publishing limitations to new watch faces constructed with the Android X and Wearable Support Library. Clearly, the intention is to sundown the outdated libraries eventually and push everybody to Watch Face Format.

Android Health options

The main workout screen on the Google Pixel Watch 2.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Android Health can also be getting some new options, although most are geared towards builders. For instance, the Google Fit app is changing into a part of Android Health, and Health Connect is changing into the brand new beneficial answer for storing and sharing health knowledge on Android telephones.

On the buyer finish, Wear OS 5 introduces help for brand new knowledge varieties for working. This consists of superior working metrics, together with floor contact time, stride size, vertical oscillation, and vertical ratio. There’s additionally help for debounced objectives, that means you will get instantaneous metrics for issues like coronary heart fee, distance, and velocity. This is meant for customers who wish to keep a sure vary throughout train, like working or rowing.

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