The 4 Best Features of Wear OS

Android Wear no more; Wear OS grows up

Wear OS by Google (formerly Android Wear) is the company's operating system for wearable devices, including smartwatches.

Notable updates over the years include new gestures and controls, Google Assistant integration, improved access to Google Fit, and other essential apps like Google Pay and Find My Device.

Wear OS is compatible with Android and iPhone. Check your wearable's settings to see which version of Wear OS it's running and whether an update is available.

Here are our favorite features of Wear OS by Google.

01
of 04

Improved Notification Layout

Wear OS by Google notifications panel
What We Like
  • Much easier to keep track of notifications.

  • Can respond to messages without leaving feed.

What We Don't Like
  • So far, we don't have any complaints.

Wear OS by Google has a refined notification layout that's accessible by swiping up. All of your notifications are on one page that you can scroll through, rather than viewing them one by one. On early versions, each one was on a separate screen so that you couldn't get a big-picture view. Now you can scan through the list, tap on a new message to send a canned Quick Reply or swipe right to dismiss. 

2.6 tiles functionality

02
of 04

Google Assistant Feed & Smart Replies

Google Assistant feed on Wear OS by Google
What We Like
  • Can access Google Assistant features without pulling out your phone.

  • More conversational voice commands.

What We Don't Like
  • While the Assistant's suggested replies are improving, sometimes they're off the mark.

Wear OS includes a Google Assistant feed with a preview of your day. Swipe right to see weather information, calendar, and task reminders, and other information based on connected apps, such as travel information.

Google Assistant will also suggest replies to messages, such as "on my way" or "sounds good," and will even offer up applicable emojis. Using the Assistant on your watch is almost as rich as the experience on your phone. For example, you can ask, "which gate is my flight at?" or "how do I get to my hotel" and if your confirmation details are in your email, the Assistant will tell you the gate and offer you directions via Google Maps.

The Assistant is still not perfect, though. You may be an inappropriate suggestion every once in a while, though. For example, you might get a message from someone canceling an event, and a suggested reply of "that's great news," which could be super awkward if accidentally sent.

03
of 04

Faster Google Fit Access

Google Fit screen on Wear OS by Google
What We Like
  • Quick access to fitness stats.

  • Redesigned Google Fit watch face is easy to read.

What We Don't Like
  • Can't choose workout type from the main screen.

At first, swiping left on a Wear OS watch brought up watch face options. Now, it brings up six tiles: Goals, Next event, Forecast, Heart Rate, Headlines, and Timer. You can select which order you'd like to see them.

Heart rate brings up your Google Fit screen if your watch has a built-in heart-rate monitor. From Google Fit, which can also be your default watch face, you can log activities, such as a run, launch the app to get more detail about your goal progress, and get a heart rate reading on the fly. You can also adjust settings, including your goals and your profile.

04
of 04

Quick Settings

Google Pay screen on Wear OS by Google
What We Like
  • Fast access to features you need quickly.

  • Can quickly check that Google Pay is ready to go.

What We Don't Like
  • Can't add or remove apps from the Quick Settings screen.

Finally, you can swipe down to access Quick Settings, which includes Find My Device and Google Pay in addition to airplane mode, watch settings, battery information, and do not disturb. If your Wear OS watch has NFC (near field communication) for mobile payments, you can use Google Pay right from the watch.

Swipe down, tap Google Pay, and you'll be ready to pay when you get to the register. It works the same as when you use Google Pay on your phone. Just place the watch near the payment terminal's contact point and wait to see a blue checkmark on the screen indicating that payment is approved.

Tap Find My Device if you've misplaced your phone and it will ring at full volume, regardless of whether it's muted or in Do Not Disturb mode. It must be powered on, though. If location services are on, you'll be able to pinpoint its location on a map. Otherwise, you'll need to be within earshot. Find My Phone has been a Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) feature since 2015, but initially, you had to dig through settings to find it.