What you need to know
- Google's Wear OS platform is getting a recent apps switcher similar to what is on Android now.
- Tiles on Wear OS are being expanded to more developers with better tools
- The launcher on Wear looks like it's getting revamped with new indicators and ongoing activities.
Among all of the announcements at Google I/O, Wear OS had some of the biggest. From the platform being co-developed with Samsung to Samsung announcing it will be making a Wear watch, it was a big day for Google's wearable platform. In a separate video, Google announced more of what's new with Wear OS — and it looks good.
Some visual changes will mimic some of what we see from Android 12, along with changes to how navigating through the operating system will work. You will still be able to press the side button of your watch to access the app drawer, but from what was shown, it might look a bit different than it does now.
Aside from the visual change to the icons in the drawer, if you have an app running in the background — a timer, for example — you'll see an indicator for it both on your home screen and at the top of your app drawer. Tapping on the home screen indicator or the running app at the top of your app list will take you back into that app. If you have multiple apps running in the background, you'll see both at the top of the app drawer.
Apps in the background are something that has been lacking from Wear OS since the beginning. This is partly due to the strain those apps would have on battery life, but hopefully, Samsung can help with that in the redesign of the OS. Now that you can have multiple apps running, a task switcher is on the way to make getting back to those apps easy.
As we've had with Android phones for years now, a task switcher is just a swipe or press away. Allowing users to switch between apps quickly, and now that same idea is making its way to Wear OS smartwatches. By double pressing on the side button of the watch, you'll be able to bounce back and forth between your two most recent apps.
Wear OS fans should be excited about these changes making their way into the best Android smartwatches along with some new Wear OS apps. Not only has a visual change to Wear OS been sorely needed for years now, apps running in the background and a task switcher will make using smartwatches much more enjoyable.
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