Ahead of the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series, we’re learning that Wear OS will soon be able to support “alternate” assistants, such as Bixby.

Wear OS 3 is set to bring a bold swath of changes to Google’s wearables platform, often being referred to as a “unified platform” of Wear OS, Android 11, and Samsung’s Tizen. Many of these changes are poised to debut later this month, with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series, which will run Wear OS 3 with Samsung’s own “One UI Watch” design, rather than the Material You components that are slowly entering Wear OS apps.

Up to this point, Wear OS has only offered the Google Assistant to serve as your on-watch companion, including a long-press on the “crown” gesture to activate it. With Samsung slated to use Wear OS on their latest smartwatches, one question was whether or not Bixby would be included in lieu of the Google Assistant. This week, leaker SnoopyTech has shared that the Galaxy Watch 4 series would in fact support both the Google Assistant and Bixby, though presumably only one at a time.

Our APK Insight team decided to take a closer look to see how this Bixby support might work. Within the Wear OS app we found references to a package name that points to Google supporting an “alternate assistant” on wearables.


For now, we’ve been unable to get our hands on this alternate_assistant, but from the name alone, it seems likely to be connected to how Wear OS can support Bixby. The only other clue we can find is that your “alternate assistant,” Bixby included, presumably, will be able to offer a tile in the Wear OS launcher.

What remains to be seen is whether other smart voice assistants — like Amazon’s Alexa, which is available on Fitbit today — could use this method to become integrated into Wear OS in the future. As for the inclusion of Bixby, it should help keep Samsung’s upcoming smartwatches up to par with past models, including the ability to manage Samsung SmartThings devices. That said, many will surely be pleased to hear that it’s “Google Assistant or Bixby,” meaning Assistant can be used as normal.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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