What’s next for Android smartwatches: the clock is ticking


– Back in April, we made a video about how there just aren’t very many good smartwatches for Android users. But since then, a whole lot has happened. There’s a new chip coming
out for Wear OS smartwatches, and there’s a new version
of Wear OS, it’s 2.0 and it’s coming out to
smartwatches right now and it has a whole new interface, but oh wait, now it says it’s Wear OS 2.1, they keep changing it on me. I dunno, whatever, the important thing is it’s the new version of Wear OS. Here’s a question, has
anything really changed? (upbeat music) Wear OS, as you know, works with both iPhones and Android phones. The truth is, if you have an iPhone and you want a smartwatch,
your best option, it really is the new Apple Watch. It’s really great. But if you have an Android phone, I still think you’re basically looking at those same three options I
talked about in the last video. And just to review, that
is a Wear OS smartwatch, it is a third-party
smartwatch with a screen or a hybrid smartwatch,
which doesn’t have a screen. I think right now the best
third-party smartwatch is the Galaxy Watch, which is nice, but I kind of don’t like it if you’re not using a Samsung phone, ’cause there’s a bunch of extra software and the hybrid smartwatches, they’re fine, they’re still doing their thing. But the real question is, what’s
going on now with Wear OS? And actually, there’s quite a lot. Qualcomm has announced a
new processor for Wear OS, it’s called the Snapdragon 3100, and before you get too excited about it, the main thing that you
should know about it is that it has a little co-processor that runs the thing in ambient mode and also it can detect all the sensors. And it allows it to run in low power for a longer time, but the main
processor isn’t any faster. So it still feels basically
the same when you use it. (energetic music) That’s not necessarily a problem, assuming that Wear OS has been updated to work better on like the existing chips. So I’ve been using Wear
OS for the last week or so and you know what? It’s been updated to work better. But the other thing
about this new processor is we haven’t seen any
watches using it yet. That may seem confusing,
’cause you may have seen that a bunch of smartwatches
just got announced at that tech show in Berlin called IFA. But you should know that all those watches still have the old processor. And here’s one of them right here. It’s the Fossil Q Explorist HR Gen 4. And the HR stands for heart rate ’cause it can read your heart rate now. They cost 255 bucks, the other new thing that it has is NFC, so you
can use it with Google Pay. And you know, honestly, it’s pretty nice. It’s got a really big screen, it’s you know, kinda thick,
but it’s not too thick. I think it looks pretty
good, and I do kinda like it. But I dunno if I like it
to the tune of 255 dollars for a smartwatch with an old processor kinda like it, you know what I mean? Also, honestly, the battery
life it’s not that great. (dreamy electronic music) At a high level, the
biggest change is that Google seems to have figured
out what a smartwatch is for. Finally, or maybe again, I dunno. Google seems to have a really clear idea. If you take a look at
what’s happening here, you begin to see something
really important. So, let’s look at the
new gestures on Wear OS. So when you swipe down from the top, you get a new quick setting screen and it’s just a lot more
coherent that before. There’s a whole lot of new buttons here, there’s a Google Pay
button, so if you have NFC you can just turn on
Google Pay really quickly. There’s a button to find
your phone right away. Do not disturb, airplane mode, it’s a much nicer quick
settings interface. Now if you swipe up, you get
the new notifications interface and it is way better than
the last version of Wear OS. Because everything is on
a single scrollable sheet, you can still expand them, you
can still see stuff grouped, and you can wipe stuff away
that gets smeared on your phone. Good job! Way better. Thank you for making it the way it was. Now from the home screen,
if you swipe right, if you swipe right? Yes. Well, if you swipe left
to go to the right. Swiping is hard, I’d be really
bad at Tinder by the way, it’s a good thing I’m old. Anyway, you get to the
new version of Google Fit, which just got updated,
it’s got two new scores, and Google really simplified it and made it easier to understand, so good job there Google. And then when you swipe right, you get to the left hand screen, which is the Google Feed. This is the place where
you can see, you know, ambient information, you’re
gonna get the weather, you’re gonna get what
Google thinks is, you know, the next thing in your
calendar or whatever. This where they can be a
little more experimental. Put it all together, look at all the stuff in the new gestures, what do you really see? Well, here’s what I see. Number one, I see an operating system that is maybe slightly faster and a little bit more
responsive than it was before. Now this could just be new watch syndrome, every time you get a new gadget
you just think it’s faster, but I dunno, honestly, I do think Google has optimized things just a little bit. Number two, finally,
we see a coherent focus on the two things that people
most want out of a smartwatch, fitness and notifications. Both of those things are way better now and they’re easy to get
to from the home screen. Or the watch face, anyway, the features are more purposeful now and they’re also more useful,
especially Google Fit. Now, Google isn’t trying
to compete at every level with the Apple Watch, Google
Fit is maybe just a little bit more basic than the health
stuff on the Apple Watch. But, you know what, it works and I do think it’s enough
for a lot of people. And then, the third thing that we see here and this might be the most important one, there is room to grow. And especially in the Google Feed. Is it great yet? No. Maybe it will be someday,
that’s always how we feel about the Google feed, but it is a place where Google can experiment
with new features and ideas without mucking around with the core functions of the smartwatch. Add those three things up and I what I think we’re really
looking at here is a reset. Wear OS is now simpler, and
it’s easier to understand and that’s more than I’ve
been able to say about it for kind of a long time. So, I wanna go back to that
very, very first question. Has anything changed? Well, you know what,
let’s look at what I said in the last video and see
if it still holds up now. (gentle electronic music) When you use an Android phone and you wanna wear a smartwatch, your choices are actually kind of grim. Yeah, you know what, grim
is mean, but it’s not wrong. The problem with Wear
OS is Google hasn’t done right by its users with this platform. The new update actually
shows Google listening to its user and I’m really happy about it. The third-party apps are
a like not that great, if you can find them at all, and digging through the piles and piles of watch faces to find the one good one that you like just takes forever. Google recently put like this quality filter on the app store for Wear OS so that really low quality
junky stuff will go away. So hopefully that will make it easier to find the good watch faces and what few good apps there actually are. I kinda wanna go back to Wear OS, which seems like a really bad choice. Yeah, I actually kind of like it, especially with this new interface. It’s great as long as, you know, you don’t need to have your
watch work after 10:00 p.m. because the battery dies. (claps) Even though it might be
the right choice for me, I don’t think I can recommend a Wear OS watch to really anybody else. Still true, but that might
not be the case forever. And let me explain why. (energetic electronic music) Wear OS is in a much better place now than it was six months ago and that comes down to Google solving the same problem that Apple
solved with its watch. Knowing what a smartwatch is for. Time, fitness, notifications. Everything else is stuff you build on top of that foundation. And foundations should
be simple and sturdy. And Wear OS? It finally is. But, that doesn’t mean
that now is a great time to buy a Wear OS smartwatch, sorry. It’s worth waiting to see what these new Qualcomm processors do on new smartwatches and whether it makes a big difference. And honestly, it’s worth waiting to see, software-wise what Google can build on top of this new foundation. Hey everybody, thank you
so much for watching. You know, we made this video because so many of you
were asking for an update to our last smartwatch
video, and I dunno if you like this kind of video let
me know in the comments. Maybe we’ll do it again sometime. Lastly, have you ever
listened to our podcast? The Vergecast, I co-host it with Nilay Patel and Paul Miller. It’s fun, you should give it a listen.

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