Google announced a new feature called Tiles today for Wear OS, essentially customizable widgets that reside within the interface so that you’re not tapping around a tiny screen trying to access common features. The Tiles offer quick access to things like goals within fitness apps, your next calendar event, the weather forecast, your heart rate, the latest headlines, and a timer. It’s going to help make Wear OS much less tedious to use.
And yet, I can’t help but feel a little tepid towards the announcement. Google is constantly making these little tweaks to evolve the Wear OS platform, but there is still no watch out there that is comfortable enough for my puny wrists.
I’ve been enjoying my time with the Samsung Galaxy Active. It’s a comfortable smartwatch, with pretty good battery life and enough features—wireless payments, standalone GPS, relative waterproofness—to keep me happy. The only downside is that its app ecosystem is severely limited, and bad reviews mar anything available. It’s in those times that I miss being a Wear OS user.
Google’s Tiles remind me a bit of the widgets on Samsung’s watch interface. They make using a tiny screen much more comfortable, and I like that I don’t have to track down an app to start a workout. Instead, I swipe twice to the left and then select my activity.
Maybe the problem isn’t that Google’s wearables platform isn’t able, or friendly enough to use. Perhaps it’s the delivery that’s failing. The watches are too big. Or they’re too fashionable. Or they’re too removed from Android ecosystem, despite being wholly based on it. I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve yet to find a smartwatch that’s compelling enough to bring me back to Wear OS.