The 5 Best Features of Wear OS

Get phone notifications, send smart replies, control your smart home, sync with Google Fit, and access quick settings

Google's Wear OS is the company's operating system for wearable devices, including smartwatches. Wear OS is full of helpful features, such as Google Assistant integration, improved access to Google Fit, and access to other essential apps, including Google Pay and Find My Device. Here's a look at some of the most useful and helpful features of Wear OS.

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

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Improved Notification Layout

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

  • Respond to messages without leaving your feed.

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

Wear OS has a refined notification layout that's accessible by swiping up. All of your notifications are on one scrollable page, which is much easier than viewing them one by one. With earlier Wear OS versions, each notification was on a separate screen, so it lacked a big-picture view. The new notification interface lets you scan through the list, tap on a new message to send a canned Quick Reply, or swipe right to dismiss. The whole notifications system is cleaner, more concise, and easier to use.

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Google Assistant Feed and Smart Replies

Google Assistant feed on Wear OS by Google
What We Like
  • 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, including travel information.

Google Assistant will also suggest message replies, 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 an email, the Assistant will tell you the gate and offer you directions via Google Maps.

The Assistant isn't perfect, though, sometimes giving an inappropriate suggestion. For example, you might get a message from someone canceling an event, and the Assistant may suggest a reply of "That's great news," which could be super awkward if accidentally sent.

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Google Assistant Smart Home Access

Young man talking to Google Assistant with his Wear OS smartwatch
Westend61 / Getty Images
What We Like
  • Incredibly convenient to issue commands via a wearable.

  • Turn on lights, start music, and more.

What We Don't Like
  • You'll have to have compatible smart home devices set up.

Along with helping you send messages and keeping your life's details straight, Google Assistant on Wear OS can help control your smart home devices. For example, create rooms and then use your wearable to have the Assistant flip on all the light switches in the bedroom or bathroom, or even to play music or track you on a run.

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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. Select which order you'd like to see these options.

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, 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. It's easy to adjust settings, including your goals and your profile.

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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.

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, 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, however. If location services are on, you'll be able to pinpoint its location on a map. Otherwise, you'll need to be within earshot.

  • How do I connect my Wear OS watch to a new phone?

    If you want to connect your Wear smartwatch to a new phone, you must first reset your watch to factory settings. On the new phone, open the Wear OS app and follow the instructions to set up your smartwatch.

  • How do I add music to Wear OS?

    Open the Google Play Store on your watch to find music apps like YouTube Music, iHeartRadio, Shazam, and Spotify. There's no Apple Music app for Wear OS, unfortunately.

  • How do I update my Wear OS watch?

    To update Wear OS, go to Settings > System > About > System Updates. To toggle automatic updates, go to Google Play > Settings > Auto-update apps.

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