Google appears to be finally getting serious about its Wear OS platform. According to a report by XDA, the operating system is getting a major update that brings Gboard to smartwatches. Gboard is the keyboard Google puts on stock Android and Pixel devices, and it’s one of the most popular smartphone keyboards on the market today. Gboard will add the swipe typing feature to smartwatches, which could make it much easier to type on the small screens you get on these wearable devices. Gboard on Android also supports voice typing, which might be a useful feature for smartwatches that have built in microphones.
The Wear OS software, which was formerly called Android Wear, hasn’t seen a big update for quite a while now. In fact, XDA pointed out that a major update hasn’t been seen since the Android 9 Pie update for Wear OS, whereas we’re about to see the launch of Android 12 for smartphones later this month. Earlier reports have indicated that the company will announce a Pixel Watch during Google I/O later this month, which gave us hope that the Wear OS platform will also get some attention from the company. That seems to be happening now.
Further, the new update allows users to “review and update” messages on the preview screen. The XDA report also said there will be support for multiple languages. This could mean that smartwatches in India could get support for Indian languages as well. Android smartphones in India come with such support already. Other features could include word suggestions, which would be another useful addition for typing on smartwatches.
Nevertheless, we would still expect Gboard’s usability to be diminished to some extent because of the small screens on smartwatches. However, the addition of Gboard will at least mean companies don’t have to come up with their own solution. And even if they do, it’s likely that users will be able to download Gboard from the Play Store, the way they do on Android smartphones with custom interfaces right now. Google has said that there will be some announcements during the I/O, which begins on May 18, so we shouldn’t have to wait too long to find out.
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