Ahead of I/O 2019 next week, Google is announcing new features that likely won’t be getting any stage time during the main keynote. As we noted last month in an APK Insight, Wear OS is adding bite-sized pieces of information called Tiles.
Tiles fit right into the latest redesign of Wear OS last year that added one swipe access to Assistant, revamped notifications, quick settings, and Google Fit from the watch face. You can now keep swiping from right-to-left to access more detailed fitness graphs and upcoming calendar appointments.
User customizable, Tiles include Goals (Google Fit), Next event (Google Calendar), Forecast (weather), Heart rate, Headlines (Google News), and Timer. Many allow users to see glanceable information, but the Timer is an example of a more actionable widget. Dots at the top of the screen note how many Tiles you have set, with app icons briefly appearing as you navigate to a new screen.
With a swipe left, you’ll be greeted by these Tiles and can check your progress towards your fitness goals or start a workout, know where you need to be next, plan ahead with the latest forecast, check your heart rate, follow the latest breaking headlines and set a timer.
To edit this arrangement, you can touch and hold any Tile on your watch to launch an editor UI. At the very right is an option to add more. Customization is also available from the Wear OS companion app, like we spotted before. Google is working to add more Tiles “over time.” Currently, they are all from Google’s first-party applications.
According to Google, Tiles will be rolling out over the next month to Wear OS devices, while “certain features will vary by phone OS, watch or country.”
These widgets are not a new paradigm for smartwatches, with the Apple Watch trying something similar before deprecating to focus on fullscreen applications. On Wear OS, Tiles help address the lack of wearable apps on the platform by letting developers create experiences that are lighter and faster.
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