Google has unveiled their latest for Android 13, which, let’s face it, most of us will use on a phone once it starts rolling out. But Google is building an eco-system for manufacturers to deliver an experience that moves across devices from your phone, to watches, tablets and Chromebooks and of course the Google Assistant.
Wear OS has been through a number of changes since it launched as Android Wear in 2014. Now, after launching a unified Tizen/Wear OS platform under the Wear OS 3.0 banner at last year’s Google I/O it’s about to go broader and pick up some new features.
After playing a big part in the move to the new Wear OS, Samsung nabbed almost a year of exclusive access to it for the past year on the Galaxy Watch4. For those not wanting a Galaxy Watch4 though, we’ll see new watches running the OS coming from Samsung, Fossil Group, Montblanc, Mobvoi and others. Of course there’s no details as yet, but they’ll be coming.
More (and Better) apps
Using your smartwatch is of course much better when you can interact with your favourite apps. The new Wear OS will be able to offer users access to apps for the wrist from popular services including Spotify, adidas Running, LINE and KakaoTalk, with SoundCloud, Deezer and more set to launch apps later in the year.
Google Assistant for Wear OS
Google hasn’t had a great run with Assistant on Wear OS, but with the unified platform it’s again the focus. Google has announced that the Assistant experience has been improved, offering faster, more natural voice interactions.
It’s a given that we’ll see this new Google Assistant experience on the new devices being announced, but it’s also going to the Galaxy Watch4. Google and Samsung will bring the Assistant to the Watch4 series for the first time later this year.
For those with family or friends who may need a little more care, Google is also bringing SOS emergency alerts to Wear OS.
Google says they’ll work with partners to bring Emergency SOS to Wear OS, letting you contact a trusted friend, family member or even directly to emergency services – all from the comfort of your wrist.
Android tablets haven’t ever really caught on for the most part. They’re useful in their way, but a lack of apps designed for the larger screen real-estate has always been a problem. Google is trying again with tablets this year, offering some new features thanks to work on Android 12L.
Android 12L was launched as a beta for Google to figure out the best way of optimising the newer, larger and in some case foldable displays now appearing. Google has been working on it since the launch of Android 12, but the features and lessons learned from it will be incorporated into Android 13.
Apps and Multitasking
Apps have been the bane of Android tablets for sometime, but in Android 13 you’ll get better apps, as well as easier ways to multi-task.
First off, the multi-tasking experience will be improved, with the option now to simply drag and drop apps from the app tray to launch a side-by-side view.
Next, the app selection will improve – as well as your ability to find those apps. Google is leading the way for improvements on apps on Android tablets, announcing they will be updating over 20 of their Google Apps, including YouTube Music, Google Maps, Messages and more, to take advantage of the extra screen real-estate.
Google says that they’ll be revamping the Play Store later this year to highlight apps which have been optimised for tablets, making it easier for people to discover them. Starting off, what Google hopes will be a deluge of apps enhanced for tablets will be new tablet optimised apps from TikTok, Zoom, Facebook and many others.
Working on your tablet will also get easier, with a clipboard that can be mirrored on your tablet. Soon, you’ll be able to copy and paste anything from a picture, URL or message from your Android phone to your tablet, and back again. Google says they’re working with partners to implement this across multiple vendors.
Improved Stylus support
Google is also making using a stylus on a tablet easier with Android 13 on Tablets. When using a stylus, Android will be much better about rejecting phantom touches from your palm, so you can rest your palm on the screen while writing.
Google is also bringing new functionality to Chromebooks, specifically the Phone Hub, which will see you able to stream messaging apps from your phone to your Chromebook without having to install any apps.
You’ll be able to effectively stream your messaging apps to your Chromebook, letting you send, receive and view conversation history.
Audio Switching and low-latency Bluetooth Audio
Google is also bringing better quality audio to the table, as well as making working with some of your accessories easier.
Announced at CES, Google is bringing improvements to Fast Pair which will be rolling in the next few months, letting you automatically switch audio from headphones from Sony, JBL and Pixel between your tablet and phone.
Google is also bringing a new low-latency Bluetooth Audio standard to Android, with LE Audio, a new standard that offers lower latency, as well as higher audio quality, and the ability to broadcast to more than one person at a time.
Google is working with partners including Sony, Samsung, and OnePlus to bring the feature to a wider audience so we’ll have to wait for more on this one.
Google is expanding their Quick Response feature for Assistant with a new Look and Talk feature that will be launching on the Nest Hub Max in the US from today.
Look and Talk will allow you to simply look at the Nest Hub Max and ask a question, or give a command like ‘Set a timer’, ‘Turn on the lights’ without the usual preamble of saying ‘Ok, Google’ first. It’s designed as an opt-in experience for privacy protection and uses Face Match and Voice Match to recognise that it’s you.