During the I/O 2023 keynote event, Google unveiled thrilling upgrades for wearable devices, including a refreshed Wear OS 4 software upgrade. After being stuck on Android 11 for nearly two years, Wear OS 4 has finally arrived based on Android 13. It’s a big leap from Android 11, which was the previous version used by Wear OS 3.5.
Wear OS 4 brings battery improvements, faster text-to-speech, backup and restore support, and a new “Watch Face Format” built in collaboration with Samsung.
New Watch Face Format
According to this blogpost, Samsung and Google built a format called “Watch Face Format,” for developers and designers so they can easily create high-quality and power-efficient watch faces for Wear OS 4.
The Watch Face Format is a new way to build watch faces for Wear OS smartwatches, developed in partnership with Samsung.
The format is a declarative XML format that does not involve any executable code, meaning that the Wear OS platform takes care of the logic needed to render the watch face.
This means that watch face designers will no longer have to worry about code optimizations or battery performance as Wear OS will handle the rendering logic. As a result, maintenance and updates will be reduced, and designers will benefit from the latest bug fixes and performance enhancements without updating the watch face.
The Watch Face Format lets designers create analog and digital watch faces, watch faces with complications, customizable watch faces, and more. Here are some examples.
Analog and digital watch faces:
Watch faces with complications:
Customizable watch faces:
Samsung’s Watch Face Studio is an alternative to directly writing XML using the Watch Face Format, and makes it easy for designers to create watch faces without any coding experience.
You can read all about the Watch Face Format for Wear OS here.
Samsung One UI 5 Watch OS based on Wear OS 4?
Samsung also just recently announced One UI 5 Watch OS for the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 5 with several new features like sleep management, fitness features, and user safety.
It may be based on Wear OS 4 and Android 13. The One UI 5 Watch OS is set for release in May 2023 as beta program for the Galaxy Watch 5 devices.
Stay tuned for Wear OS 4 for the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 5.
New apps coming to Wear OS – Gmail, Google Calendar, WhatsApp, Spotify, and more
One of the most significant announcements of Wear OS 4 was the addition of Gmail and Google Calendar to Wear OS. This will allow users to browse their inboxes, read and respond to emails, and manage their schedules on their wrists.
Google also highlighted third-party apps like WhatsApp, Peloton, and Spotify, which are set to be available on Wear OS soon. Meta already pushed the beta version of WhatsApp for Wear OS here. You can download WhatsApp for Wear OS right now!
Wear OS 4 is set to launch later this year, most likely with the stable Android 14 release set for the Google Pixel 8 and 8 Pro launch event; most likely in October 2023.
The update is now available for download as developer preview via emulator today, giving developers a head start to optimize their apps for the new platform.