It’s long been rumored that Samsung’s next Galaxy Watch 4 would make the switch to Wear OS after seven years of running its own in-house Tizen OS. In fact, the latest rumors pointed to the Galaxy Watch 4 using a Tizen skin over Wear OS.

Now, we know there’s much more to it than that. Today, at Google I/O 2021, Google announced that it has been working in partnership with Samsung to bring the best of Wear OS and Tizen together for the biggest upgrade to the platform yet, promising faster performance and longer battery life.

Google is now promising faster animations, a smoother user interface, and apps launching up to 30% faster on the latest chipsets.

While to improve battery life they had to dig deep and optimize the lower layers of the operating system utilizing low-power hardware cores to optimize continuous heart rate and sleep monitoring. All of which should spell battery life savings allowing you to make it through a full day and overnight with juice to spare.

As for the Galaxy Watch 4 running a custom Tizen skin, it does appear Google is opening up the platform to custom UIs for the first time saying, “This isn’t just for Google and Samsung. All device makers will be able to add a customized user experience on top of the platform, and developers will be able to use the Android tools they already know and love to build for one platform and ecosystem.”

On top of everything else, by having one unified platform going forward, app developers won’t have to split focus. Instead, they can focus directly on a single platform making it easier to develop and maintain apps. Google says you can expect more tiles on the way from apps such as Calm, Sleep Cycle, and Flo.

Additionally, redesigned and improved versions of Google Maps and Google Assistant are in the works for Wear OS. Then there’s the long-awaited YouTube Music app coming later this year with the ability to download songs to your watch for subscribers, along with Google Pay snagging a UI refresh and support for 26 new countries.

And have you forgotten about Google’s Fitbit acquisition? Because it appears they are finally doing something with it, promising the best of Fitbit with features like health tracking throughout the day and on-wrist goal celebrations.

Last but not least, Google has also been working on some usability enhancements mentioning a new way to swap between apps on the watch. This will come in the form of a double-press of the button on the side of the watch, which will take you back to the last app you were using. For example, if you’re tracking your run with an app, you’ll be able to double-press on the button to swap over to your music app to change tracks before doing the same action again to return to the app tracking your run. It’s a small thing, but also a huge improvement.

All in all, it appears the biggest thing to happen to Wear OS is on the horizon, and it couldn’t come soon enough. Google has neglected the platform for years now and it has been in dire need of a refresh. As a huge wearables fan myself, I couldn’t be more excited about all these changes.

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