Google has released a big overhaul of the Wear OS apps experience, ahead of the launch of Wear OS 3.0.
The refresh makes it easier to find Wear OS apps and watch faces on the Play Store, both on your Android phone and from the wrist.
Starting on the smartphone, Google has added filters to the search so you can look for watch faces and apps.
Likewise, you’ll now see spotlight sections as you scroll through the Play Store, highlighting and suggesting some top picks.
But things are even better when you head to the smartwatch.
The Play Store on Wear OS is getting a face lift, using the Material You design principles that Google has been rolling across its products.
The new design is meant to make browsing and finding apps from your watch easier.
And if you find one that requires payment or in-app payments, Google says it’s streamlined the process, and will open a page directly on your Android smartphone.
It’s not the biggest update in the world, but it’s interesting for two reasons.
The first is that it’s a clear signal that Google will be pushing its app ecosystem as a reason to get onboard with Wear OS. That was a key reason cited by Samsung for switching from Tizen, and with the extra volume created by having the world’s second largest smartwatch brand on board, Google is banking on drawing more development to the platform.
Google has confirmed these changes will apply to smartwatches running Wear OS 2.xx, so essentially all of the current crop. That means that existing users will find it easier to jump on board and get more from their smartwatches.
We’ve always felt that Google has squandered the benefits of the strong app ecosystem on Wear OS, thanks to a poor, clunky experience.
It’s not easy. Apple also struggled to make apps a part of watchOS – and the initial selection was poor. Only recently has it managed to get developers to build apps that really match our expectations.
Google will also need to undertake the same process. Making the downloading and browsing experience better is a great start. Now it needs to show that the Play Store can deliver the same versatility as the Apple Watch via its apps and make Wear OS a serious player.
How we test