Wear OS watches - updates -IFA

As rumors of a new Apple Watch run amuck on the interwebs, Google has come out with new smartwatch software updates.

According to the Wear OS announcement revealed at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin on Wednesday, the tech giant aims to make health and help features easier to find and use. The update extends the assistant’s powers on compatible smartwatches, with more proactive and personalized help more easily in reach.

“Let’s say you’re headed to the airport — swipe right on your watch to see your flight status or hotel reservation. Tap on smart suggestions like the weather at your destination or find a restaurant near your hotel,” wrote Dennis Troper, Google’s director of product management for Wear OS, in a company blog post. “When you’re getting ready for the day, your Google Assistant will help you stay ahead by reminding you to bring an umbrella, showing you your day’s meetings, or warning you if there is a delay on your commute.”

The assistant will also suggest features to try and, the company promises, will grow more helpful “as it gets to know you.”

Other changes include interface tweaks that make certain frequent tasks more accessible. The new notification stream — available by swiping up — was designed to make seeing, responding to or silencing notifications simpler. The update also offers built-in smart replies, so it doesn’t kick the user out of the stream. A downward swipe makes features like Google Pay and Find My Phone more easily available.

Health and wellness are all the rage for wearables; in fact, it’s something of a focal point for Apple Watches. Google clearly aims to stake out territory here, too.

For Google Fit, it announced new activity goals recently, Heart Points and Move Minutes. They’re products of a joint effort with the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization, which helped design the goals based on activity recommendations that benefit the heart and mind. Wear OS now puts the goals one left swipe away, so users can more easily start a workout or check in on their progress.

The changes will roll out to supporting devices over the next month, presumably over the latest generation from Fossil, Skagen, Diesel and, now possibly, Casio.

The legacy watchmaker — known best for its iconic, old school wrist gizmos with compact calculators — also hit IFA with its newest model in its Pro Trek Smart Outdoor Watch line. Built for the outdoors, the Wear OS-powered WSD-F30 is its smallest smartwatch yet, with the most battery life.

Casio’s WSD-F30  Courtesy image

If consumers can get past the awkward “alphabet soup” of a name, they’ll find wilderness-friendly features like GPS and off-line maps, as well as a new slimmer physique. The company trimmed 3.9-mm. off of its previous smartwatches, while delivering more longevity — from one and a half days up to three days. With “extend mode,” the WSD-F30 can limit certain functions and flip into monochrome mode with limited features. (Displays are known battery hogs on watches, mobile devices and more.)

It’s not an elegant timepiece but that was never the intention. The shock-resistant unit was designed to survive trips, slips, tumbles and whatever else the adventure seeker — or clumsy hiker — puts it through. And if it gets the latest Wear OS update, the watch could go from mere navigator or fitness tracker to something like a personal trainer.

Your move, Apple.

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