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The surprise Wear OS 4 reveal has me really excited for the Pixel Watch 2

OPINION: Google’s I/O event was mostly comprised of AI-dominated presentations, but in amongst the discussions about Google Bard and the future of artificial intelligence, the company dropped a brief update surrounding Wear OS 4 that points towards a brighter future for wearables.

It’s no secret that Wear OS was a stagnant platform for the longest time, with Google seemingly uninterested in bringing anything new to the table after Wear OS 2. Luckily, this ended up being a temporary setback as the company introduced the much improved Wear OS 3 at the start of 2021 and released the very first Pixel Watch late last year.

Having finally gotten around to using the Pixel Watch fairly recently, I can definitely say that it’s an impressive piece of kit and easily one of the nicest looking smartwatches I’ve ever worn. The only points holding it back are its lacklustre battery life and the need for a few more popular apps to join the Wear OS ecosystem.

Well, Apple has clearly learned from the mistakes of the past for the fact that it’s already announced the existence of Wear OS 4. For starters, the new OS will include some major updates to the functionality of Google’s own apps, including Gmail, Google Home and Google Calendar.

All of these apps will be given a major functionality boost on Wear OS 4, such as Google Home’s ability to see who’s at your front door and even remotely unlock any smart locks in your ecosystem, right from your wrist. These are great updates for general functionality and showing to users why it’s worth investing in Google’s software and hardware, but the surprise announcement of WhatsApp on Wear OS really caught my attention.

WhatsApp comes to the watch

Until now, there has been no version of WhatsApp optimised for smartwatches, despite the fact that it’s one of the world’s most popular messaging services.

This has always been a pain when I’m on the go, as I’d much rather just respond to a message via my wrist as opposed to pulling out my phone. The fact that Wear OS will be getting official WhatsApp support now has me questioning why my Apple Watch isn’t getting the same.

Google Pixel Watch with different faces

As an extra cherry on top, Google quietly announced its new ‘Watch Face Format’ programme, which makes it easier than ever for people to make stylish new watch faces for Wear OS. I’ve fallen out of love with some wearables that haven’t been able to deliver exciting and eye-catching watch faces, so the fact that Google’s opening up the software here just feels like an amazing opportunity for users to design the watch faces they’ve always wanted. Even the sample designs that Google has shown off look fantastic.

Google has pledged to bring even more updates to Wear OS throughout the year, and if these are the moves we can anticipate then it feels as though Google is finally taking the smartwatch market seriously, and there’s a good chance that the Pixel Watch 2 could genuinely go toe-to-toe with the Apple Watch.

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