Wear OS gets maps update – with bigger overhaul coming

And Material You design changes could be inbound
Wareable pixel watch
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Changes are afoot for Wear OS and the Pixel Watch, as Google continues to make improvements to its flagship smartwatch.

Both updates have been reported by 9to5Google.

First up is an update to Google Maps for Wear OS 3, which can now make use of the always-on display on compatible smartwatches.

> 6 ways Google needs to improve the Pixel Watch 2

This means that when navigating from the wrist, the map will stay illuminated, even if you allow the screen to dim, or stop looking at the watch.

There’s also been a UI overhaul too, with dedicated full-screen options for both the physical map and listed turn-by-turn directions.

This should make Google Maps much easier to use on Wear OS 3 smartwatches, and is a big step forward in making the jewels of Google’s crown shine brighter on its wearables.

The second update is a little more complex.

9to5Google sleuths have spotted a mention of the Material You design features, which enable dynamic switching of colors across the OS.

A thread of code that reads “DYNAMIC_COLOR_THEME_ENABLED” was found in the code for Android 14, among a list of wearables-related settings.

This means that Wear OS may soon be more customizable, and dynamically adjust to chosen watch faces.

However, the black design of Wear OS both conserves vital power and is crucial to the “bezel-less” look of the Pixel Watch – given that it does, in fact, have a significant bezel. So dynamically switching colors may not be in the interest of Pixel users in particular.

This could also be a line of code on the path to Wear OS 4.0.

Google promised annual updates to its OS, so all eyes are on its I/O developer conference this May to see how it follows up.

Source: 9to5Google (1) (2)

How we test

James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and T3.com and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

Related stories