In Wear OS 3, many apps currently lack always-on display/ambient mode support and putting down your wrist while something is active will just blur your screen and show the time. Google Maps has now been updated with AOD support on the Pixel Watch and other Wear OS 3 devices, as well as a main UI tweak.

The previous UI showed a map, with step-by-step directions accessed by swiping up for that list.

Now, there’s a dedicated list view that takes up the entire screen. No map appears at the top unless you switch into that view by tapping the new pill-shaped button at the bottom (as seen below on the left). In the map view, tap the arrow button to switch back to the list.

L: New list view | R: New map view

Meanwhile, putting your wrist down will keep the map or list active. In the latter case, the next direction is prominently displayed instead of just getting blurring and the time. Below, the left screenshot is when the display is fully active, while the image at the right shows Google Maps in AOD.

L: Active screen | R: AOD

Elsewhere, Google Maps has rephrased “Auto-launch” in Settings for phone-less navigation to “Mirroring.”

Version 11.65 of Google Maps for Wear OS 3 rolled out this week, but these UI tweaks and AOD support are rolling out via a server-side update, and you might have it without updating. Meanwhile, this works on a Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch 4 we tested today.

In switching to Wear OS 3, the lack of AOD support from first-party Google apps felt like a big usability regression. Support in the updated Google Keep would also be welcome, especially when viewing a list (like when you’re shopping).

More on Wear OS:

Thanks Silvijn

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: