Review: Google’s Wear OS 2.0 can’t fix its obsolete smartwatch hardware

Ron Amadeo

The major overhaul of Google's Wear operating system is out today and it will arrive soon on most devices released in a year and a half (although Ars has already spent a week with a version pre-version of the OS). Faced with the fierce competition of the Apple Watch Series 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch, Google's most obvious change in the new Wear operating system is a new user interface for most major screens. There are not many new features or features, but everything is better organized.

Google did not do much to publicize the actual name of this version, but it does identify the update as "Wear OS 2.0" on the "About" page, we are not sure about it. Let's call it that way. Do not confuse "Wear OS 2.0" with " Android Wear 2.0 " because it was launched in 2017. When the name changed from "Android Wear" to "Wear OS "has passed, the version numbers reset." Android Wear started at "1.0" and went all the way to "2.9;" OS Wear then restarted at "1.0" and counted up to "2.0." Pursuing the old version numbers would have made things much easier: Google and terrible mark – name an iconic duo .

The new layout

The new Wear Wear system layout features Quick Settings, Google Fit, Notifications and the Google Assistant at your fingertips. Simply slide in one direction.

Long press on the dial of the watch and you will get this dial selector (at the top). You can scroll left and right to change the faces of the watch (at the bottom).

The list of apps is unchanged from the old version of Android Wear 2.0 in 2017.

The parameters have not changed either.

The essential changes made to Wear OS is focused on the new layout, which places a useful screen at the top, bottom, left and right of the main face of the watch. Quick Settings is the top screen and the notifications panel is the bottom screen, which places them in much the same place as the Android Phone's notifications / quick settings panel. The left screen is a page of predictive maps, just like the old Google Now feed on an Android phone. The screen on the right is the new home of Google Fit, which was recently renovated with separate steps for more intense stages and workouts. In addition to the top quick settings, the other three directions represent the three pillars of the new Wear operating system: notifications, the Google wizard and Google Fit.

Compared to previous versions of Wear OS / Android Wear, this is a big improvement. Quick settings and notifications have not moved, but before, Wear used left and right sweeps to change faces. It always seemed like a waste of high-end real estate. Under Wear OS 2.0, you can always change faces quickly by pressing and holding the watch face. Watch faces are still the only things that OEMs are allowed to customize in Wear OS and have not changed in version 2.0.

In addition to the four main screens on which you can slide from the dial, the rest of the Wear OS remains unchanged. You can still access an application list by pressing the Crown button, and all applications remain unchanged. There is a packaged in Google Play Store for apps and a great settings section with plenty of options to scroll through. For messaging apps, you can always respond with voice, pre-recorded answers, emoji writing recognition or by sliding on the smallest QWERTY keyboard . This is covered in our Android Wear 2.0 review (which, again, is the previous version of Wear OS 2.0).

The notification panel

The notification panel is now a real board, instead of receiving a notification per page. Just scroll up and down without interruption.

Just drag a notification to delete it.

Typing on a notification will extend it online. Here you can see Hangouts developed with smart answers, a standard answer button, and a "Show conversation" button. The other notifications are still in this panel.

Here is Gmail, reduced and expanded.

And here is the Pocket Casts podcast app. Like all other versions of Wear, each application is automatically supported as a notification.

The notification panel is the biggest change for Wear OS 2.0. Notifications are moved from a paginated list to a single scroll window. This not only makes it more similar to the normal Android Phone notification panel, but the change also makes scrolling much faster when you have multiple notifications. With the Wear 1.0 paginated template, four notifications meant four vertical sweeps on the touch screen, one to navigate each page. With a single pane, all scrolling tricks based on the touch screen work: a medium power movie scrolls past several notifications at once, and a harder projection will be performed at the end of the list. You can also continue turning the crown knob like a wheel and move up and down the list.

The shutter notifications are separated by a horizontal line. They display short previews of the content (usually the name of the app, the time and two lines of text). Just like on a phone, you can drag a notification to the left or right to delete it, and at the bottom of the list is a "Clear All" button. If you really want to interact with a notification, you can tap on it to expand the online notification to display more text and many action buttons. For a Gmail message, you will see "Archive", "Delete" and "Reply". But for a message from something like Google Hangouts, things get a little more interesting. Besides "Reply" and the app "launch app", you get smart answers online, as on the new notification panel of Android 9.0 Pie's . If an application supports them, you will get simple responses generated by machine learning, which are sometimes more interesting than trying to talk or typing an answer on your little watch.

The good thing about expanding notifications and extra buttons is that it all happens online. While Wear 1.0 would have made you go through a lot of different pages, it's easy to manage multiple notifications on Wear 2.0 without losing your place.

As with all previous versions of (OS) Wear OS, the entire notification system is powered by an Android API. Each surveillance notification then has the same notification text and the same action buttons as a phone notification, regardless of the individual application support for Wear. Each application works automatically.

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