How to use voice commands on Wear OS

Conversation starters for Google Assistant
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Behind the slim, compact frame of your Wear OS smartwatch lies a wealth of functions and features you can awaken with a voice command—largely thanks to the Google Assistant that comes as part of Wear OS.

Voice controls are the best way of unlocking the potential of your shiny timepiece: everything from appointments and holidays to emails and fitness can be accessed from your wrist without having to tap away on a tiny screen.

Essential reading: Wear OS ultimate guide

Google Assistant continues to get smarter and smarter, and better at understanding what you're saying to it, and here we present for you the best voice commands for your Wear OS smartwatch—and how to use them.

If you're running an older watch that doesn't have the Wear OS 2.0 update on it, you might not be able to use some of these commands. You can still tap the watch face and say "OK Google" to ask a question, but you don't get the full Google Assistant experience. So, let's get into it.

How to launch Google Assistant

How to use voice commands on Wear OS

You can find Google Assistant in lots of places now: on smartphones, in smart speakers, on smart displays, on Chromebooks, and so on. There are slight differences between the way it works on various devices, but the underlying features and are the same.

Read this: Essential Wear OS tips and tricks

To launch Google Assistant on a Wear OS smartwatch, press and hold the physical crown button. You can also just say "OK Google", but you'll need to enable this feature first via the Personalisation menu in Settings on your watch.

Another option is to swipe left on your watch face then tap the microphone icon. The same screen shows information you might need right now, like the weather forecast or the next appointment on your Google Calendar.

You don't get as many Google Assistant options as you do on your phone, but there's a lot you can do. Think about the queries you would type into the Google search engine, like "where's the nearest pub?" or "what time is it in New York?", and the Google Assistant on your watch will bring up the answer.

Chatting to apps

How to use voice commands on Wear OS

Beyond commands that you could input into any web search box, you can use the Assistant as a quick way of accessing apps. Say "show me directions to..." then a place name, Google Assistant maps out the route. The navigation mode can be launched with another tap on the screen.

Read this: The best smartwatches for women

Likewise use the voice commands "send a message to..." or "send an email to..." as a quick way of launching your messaging apps and calling up the relevant contact info—by dictating out the message as well you don't even have to touch the screen. You can call people too, by saying "call..." followed by the contact name.

As you would expect, the app integrates smartly with other Google services, so you can ask "what's on my schedule?" to see the next few entries from your Google Calendar. However, you can't use the "show my trips" or "show my flights" voice commands that will work on Google Assistant on your phone.

You don't get much in the way of watch control either at the moment, so you can't (for example) turn Wi-Fi on and off, or change the watch face from Google Assistant. The Assistant is able to launch watch apps and the Settings screen for you though: say "open" then the app name.

Wear OS voice commands to try out

How to use voice commands on Wear OS

Google Assistant works well in other assistant-y stuff, like setting reminders: try saying "set a reminder to buy milk" or "set a timer for five minutes". You can also say something like "set an alarm for 8am" to make sure you wake up in time the next morning (although Google Assistant is easier to snooze than a real-life human assistant).

Try with Google Fit

Google Fit integration is also up and running. Say "track my run" to launch your smartwatch's tracking capabilities, or "what's my step count?" or "what's my heart rate?" to get some of your key stats up on screen. Unfortunately there's not yet any solid integration with third-party apps such as Strava.

Control your music

Google Assistant can get the tunes started as well. A simple "play music" command launches a random recommended mix in Google Play Music on your phone (or on your watch, if you've got it installed on your wrist). Saying "play..." and then an artist works too, if you can say the artist name clearly enough. Again though, you can't use this with other apps like Spotify yet.

Translating languages

Don't forget Google's vast search engine covers definitions and translations too, so you can say to the Assistant "define individualism" or "say beer in Spanish" and get an answer back on screen (handy for those quick trips abroad). As we mentioned above, if it works on Google search on the web, it'll probably work in Google Assistant too.

Control your smart home

Finally, as on other devices, the Google Assistant on Wear OS can control your smart home devices as well. On your phone, open the Wear OS app, then tap Google Assistant on the front screen and Settings. Under the Home tab you can connect compatible smart home gear to the Assistant, and these devices will then respond to commands like "turn on the bedroom lights" or "set the temperature to 23".

How we test


David is a freelance tech writer who has been writing about technology, gadgets and gizmos for more than 20 years.

You can find his work on The Guardian, Wired, Gizmodo, PopSci, TechRadar, T3 and many other major publications on the web and in print.

He spends all day, (almost) every day testing out, explaining, and reviewing smartphones, laptops, smart home kit, wearables, and other essential devices.

From iOS to Wear OS, from Samsung to Sony, he's got an intimate knowledge of almost everything going on in the world of technology right now. When it comes to wearables, there aren't many smartwatches, fitness trackers and VR headsets that he hasn't tried and tested – which means he has a wealth of experience to draw on when it comes to talking about something new or the market in general.

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