Image source: Google

Google I/O 2024 day 1: Wear OS 5 reveals focus on battery life

Google’s I/O 2024 was a whirlwind of AI advancements, particularly around Gemini AI. However, amidst the AI buzz, Google didn’t forget its smartwatch operating system. On Day 1 of the event, the company unveiled several exciting details about the upcoming Wear OS 5.

For starters, Google has confirmed that Wear OS 5, which is based on Android 14 will be arriving in a few months time. The initial public rollout is anticipated to coincide with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 7 series, likely in late July or early August 2024. As before, Samsung’s wearables will feature a unique blend of Wear OS 5 with their One UI interface.

However, the true potential of Wear OS 5 might be fully realised with the launch of the Pixel Watch 3 in October.This device is expected to showcase Google’s pure vision for Android wearables, unfiltered by any third-party customisations.

Battery life: A top priority

Poor battery life has long been a stumbling block of Wear OS devices. Not surprising as just like the Apple Watch, this is a fully-fledged operating system.

Now the company has set out to address this major pain point. Battery optimization is a key focus for Wear OS 5. While not delving into specifics, the Google assures users that activities like workout tracking will be more efficient, and even a marathon (approximately four hours) will consume 20% less power compared to Wear OS 4.

This won’t magically fix the problem – but it will help.

Enhanced watch face customisation

Wear OS 5 introduces significant improvements to the Watch Face Format, the tool used to create watch faces. One of the most notable additions is ‘Flavors’, which allow users to choose different versions of a watch face with variations in color themes and included complications.

Complications, the small data-providing elements on a watch face, will now support ‘goal progress’ tracking (e.g., step count) and ‘weighted elements’. These weighted elements can visually represent data subsets, providing a clearer picture than traditional pie charts.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

Another handy upgrade is the ability to display weather information directly on the watch face. Users can view the current temperature, weather conditions, and even forecasts for the next few hours.

Acknowledging the growing diversity of round screen sizes and resolutions in Wear OS devices, Google is also releasing new guidelines for developers. These guidelines aim to help developers create responsive user interfaces that adapt seamlessly to various watch screen sizes.

More data for runners

Wear OS 5 introduces new running metrics to help you better understand your form and performance:

  • Ground contact time: The duration your foot touches the ground with each step.
  • Stride length: The distance covered with each step.
  • Vertical oscillation: Your “bounce” while running – how much you lift off the ground with each step.
  • Vertical ratio: The relationship between your vertical oscillation and stride length, showing your up-and-down movement relative to your forward progress.

These additional insights can help you optimize your running technique and potentially reduce your risk of injury.

Looking ahead: More to come

Day one of Google I/O 2024 provided a glimpse into the exciting future of Wear OS 5. As event progresses, we can anticipate further details and features to be revealed. Stay tuned for more updates on this promising new chapter for Android wearables.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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