Google's smartwatch platform has had some trouble gaining traction and the company is doing whatever it can to keep the system alive. Earlier this year, it dropped the Android Wear brand name in favor of Wear OS by Google, and now it's introducing significant changes to the interface.
The changes were actually announced last month, with Google saying at the time that they would begin rolling out sometime in September. That seems to be the case, as a number of outlets are reporting that the update is going out to compatible devices today.
The new version of Wear OS introduces a new navigation system that relies more heavily on gestures - swiping up from the watch face will bring up your notifications; swiping down gives you access to device controls such as Do Not Disturb mode; swiping left gets you to a new Google Assistant interface that proactively helps you get ready for your day; and swiping right leads you to Google Fit to keep track of your activity. To account for these changes, you'll now have to press and hold on the watch face, rather than swipe sideways, in order to choose a different one.
Software isn't the only problem with Google's Wear OS, and the fact that most smartwatches today are running on two-year-old chipsets doesn't make them very compelling. Thankfully, Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon Wear 3100 earlier this month, which should start making its way to new wearable devices soon. With the promise of big improvements to battery life, it could give consumers enough reason to get into the world of smartwatches.