Google has announced plans to merge its Wear OS smartwatch platform with Fitbit and Samsung’s Tizen and has unveiled a major design overhaul for the next version of Android.
Announced at the 2021 I / O conference, Google’s new focus on Wear OS – now rebranded as simply Wear – follows years of neglect by the company that has seen its market share decline to a fraction of that of the wearable smartwatch.
platform from Apple. While Google hasn’t released any major updates to Wear in recent years, the platform has also been crippled by its reliance on Qualcomm as the sole carrier, which has failed to release a wearable chipset that can compete with Samsung’s Exynos or Apple’s S-series processors.
Now Wear OS and Samsung’s Tizen OS will merge, with Samsung planning to release the new software on the upcoming Galaxy Watch 4 and other companies are expected to release devices as well.
Unfortunately, for current users of both Tizen and Wear OS, the new platform will not be ported to older devices.
Google said improved performance for the updated operating system means apps boot up to 30 percent faster on the latest chipsets with smoother UI, animations and motion.
The watches should also have longer battery life with under-the-hood optimizations of the software to minimize the amount of power it uses by using low-power hardware cores.
That includes the ability to keep the heart rate sensor running continuously during the day without draining the battery too heavily, as well as the ability to track sleep at night.
While Wear OS is strictly designed to minimize the amount of software customization available to watchmakers, Wear is designed to allow for more customization at the system level.
Google will also redesign many of its own Wear apps, including Google Maps, Assistant and YouTube Music, for the new platform.
Android 12 was also shown at the conference with the most significant visual redesign in years. It takes on a blockier look than previous versions of Android, with big and bold colors applied to widgets and apps, making it more reminiscent of Apple’s iOS.
Google has also worked extensively on animations to give Android a smoother feel, and to reduce the amount of CPU time to perform some basic operations that should improve battery life.
The quick settings panel now includes sections for easy access to Google Pay and smart home devices that move them from the lock screen used in Android 11.
The privacy dashboard has also been revamped to give users a better idea of how apps use their data. Project Starline was also introduced at I / O 2021, a virtual communication tool designed to give users the feeling of sitting across the table from each other through the use of a “magic window”.
Google has used machine learning and real-time compression to create real-time 3D models of the person on the other end of the call.
Currently, prototype versions include custom hardware and can only be found in a few Google offices, but the company plans to make the technology more affordable and accessible over time.