Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic at the Galaxy Unpacked August 2021 event yesterday. These watches mark Samsung’s return to Google’s Wear OS after an ineffectual sting with its in-house Tizen. To instil confidence in its hardware partners, Google has also updated its Wear OS with new features. Dubbed Wear OS 3, this new software build has been developed in collaboration with Samsung. As per Google, the Wear OS 3 is a culmination of expertise derived from Tizen and Wear OS. It comes with many aesthetic changes along with new functionalities. Let us run you through a few highlights.

YouTube Music Offline Music Downloads

For Wear OS 3 smartwatches, Google has created a new YouTube Music app. It is a standalone app that doesn’t require you to connect your watch to a smartphone. Those with a Youtube Music Premium subscription will be able to download their favourite tracks for offline listening. Plus, users will get ad-free access to a library of over 80 million songs. YouTube has integrated a Smart Downloads feature, which refreshes downloads over Wi-Fi when your smartwatch is docked for charging.

Wear OS 3 YouTube Music app

Google Maps Offers Turn-By-Turn Navigation

In addition to playing music, your Wear OS 3 smartwatch can also take you places. With the latest update, Google Maps now offers turn-by-turn navigation in Drive, Cycling, and Walk modes. Simply share a location from your mobile to the Wear OS smartwatch, and you won’t have to take out your handset to find your destination. With sync functionality, you can access your home, work, and other saved locations along with recent searches right on your wrist.

Improved Google Messages App

Google’s Messages app is good for quickly glancing over your incoming texts. However, if you wanted to type out a proper reply, there was no option but to whip out the smartphone from your pocket. With the new OS version, Google has decided to address this pet peeve. Wear 3 smartwatch users can reply to messages right from the tiny screen. The Messages app is smart enough to sync with your phone so that all your text threads are up to date on both devices.

Wear OS Messaging app

Third-Party Tiles Support

Wear OS has a Tiles functionality that provides quick access to essential information. It allows you to check for the weather forecast or step counter with a simple swipe or two. For years, this feature was limited to native Google apps. But now thanks to the latest software update, third-party apps will also get to design and deploy their Tiles experience. In fact, Spotify, Sleep Cycle, MyFitnessPal, and Strava have already added this functionality.

Wear OS Tiles
Third-Party Wear OS Tiles

Google Pay Design Revamp and Wider Release

In an effort to improve the contactless payment experience, the software giant has refined the design elements of the Google Pay app. For instance, the stored cards are now larger and easy to swipe. The feature will also be rolled out to 16 new countries including Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine, and UAE.

Wear OS 3 Google Pay

With these features, Wear OS finally seems ready for prime-time. The good news is that Google has stated Wear OS 3 features won’t be exclusive to Samsung. They will be made available on all upcoming watches based on the Wear 3 platform. The bad news is that older smartwatches won’t be eligible for Wear OS 3 update save for the Snapdragon Wear 4100-powered Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 and TicWatch E3. Thankfully, Google has promised to add a few new features such as updates Messages, Google Pay, and extended Tiles support to Wear OS 2.

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