Google and Samsung are teaming up to take on the Apple Watch – here’s what that means for smartwatch shoppers

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Google Wear OS
  • Google and Samsung are working together on a new version of Wear OS.
  • The new software should enable better performance and a bigger selection of apps.
  • But most of all, it could make the user experience more consistent for Android buyers.

Google is finally taking smartwatches seriously again. During the 2021 Google I/O developer conference, the company announced that it’s partnering with Samsung to create a revamped version of its Wear OS platform.

The new software should give Google-powered smartwatches longer battery life, faster performance, and more apps. It also leverages some of Fitbit’s health-oriented features, coming after the search giant acquired the digital health company earlier this year.

In other words, Google and Samsung are teaming up to compete with the Apple Watch, the world’s most popular smartwatch. Apple accounted for 40% of smartwatch shipments in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Counterpoint Research, far outpacing Samsung, Huawei, and Fitbit.

Although there are few details about when the software will launch and which watches will be the first to get it, the update is a welcome sign for Android users in the market for a smartwatch.

Google hasn’t meaningfully updated its smartwatch platform in years. But this new partnership with Samsung and its acquisition of Fitbit prove that Google is still committed to wearable devices.

Release date and supported smartwatches

Google hasn’t provided many specifics, but did say the Wear OS updates will begin rolling out later this year.

We don’t know exactly which watches will get it, but Samsung did say during the keynote that the next Galaxy Watch will run on the new version of Wear OS.

More features and better performance

Google and Samsung’s new software should make apps run 30% faster on smartwatches powered by the latest chipsets, Google said in a blog post. That last part is crucial, considering slow processors have been partially to blame for hampering the success of Wear OS smartwatches in the past.

Google also says that smartwatches running on the new software should be able to last more than a day on a single charge while offering features like continuous heart rate and sleep tracking.

Wear OS will also get interface improvements that make it easier to switch between apps and customize the home screen with Tiles, which are essentially widgets. Fitbit features, like health tracking and goal celebrations, are also coming to Wear OS, and Google says apps like the Google Assistant and Google Maps will get updates for Wear OS as well.

The Apple Watch’s ease of use is one of the main reasons we’ve chosen it as our favorite smartwatch, so hopefully the new interface will allow for a similarly intuitive experience for Android fans.

More apps, and catching up to the Apple Watch

As part of the collaboration, Samsung is pivoting away from its current smartwatch software and combining it with Google’s to create the new version of Wear OS.

That’s a good thing for smartwatch shoppers. Developers can build apps that will work across Samsung and Wear OS watches rather than having to choose between the two.

Google already operates one of the largest mobile app stores in the world, and Samsung is the second-largest smartwatch maker behind Apple. So developers have plenty of motivation to optimize their apps for the new platform. Google says a new watch face design editor made by Samsung will be among the new tools available for developers.

But above all else, the update could give Wear OS the most important element it’s been missing: consistency. The biggest benefit Apple has always had over Google has been that no matter which iPhone you buy, the software feels the same. That concept translates to the Apple Watch as well since all models run on the same watchOS software.

Now, Google is seemingly trying to bring that level of consistency to its smartwatch platform, which will hopefully result in a much more compelling experience for Android fans.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Google unveils ‘magic window’ that can let people chat virtually in lifelike 3D

Google Project Starline 3d virtual chat
  • Google announced a lifelike virtual meeting screen that uses 3-D imaging tech on Tuesday.
  • The company unveiled the project, which is still in the works, during its annual I/O conference.
  • Google’s 2021 I/O developer conference runs through Thursday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Google announced an in-the-works product that would allow people to meet virtually via a “magic window.”

The pseudo-video chat technology, known as Project Starline, would allow users to “see another person, life-size and in three dimensions,” google said. It uses

The technology employs 3D imaging and real-time compression “to capture people as they are,” according to Steve Seitz, Google’s director of engineering.

“So it really feels like you’re talking with someone right in front of you,” Seitz said in a video.

The initiative “is a technology project that combines advances in hardware and software to help people feel like they’re together, even when they’re apart,” he continued.

It’s unclear when or if the product will ever be available for mass use, but the announcement comes more than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, which forced many to rely on video conferencing both for work and personal purposes.

Each spring, Google hosts its annual I/O developer’s conference, its biggest event of the year. This year’s event is being held virtually and lasts through Thursday. CEO Sundar Pichai delivered his Keynote speech this afternoon.

Last year’s Google I/O conference was canceled entirely in light of the pandemic.

Read more: Inside Google DeepMind’s secret talks to launch a futuristic food division with controversial vegan startup Hampton Creek

The company typically unveils new technologies that it has in the works, including new software updates. In 2019, the last time Google held its I/O conference, the company announced revamped augmented reality features.

This year, Google could unveil a budget-friendly Pixel 5a smartphone and a more affordable version of Google’s Pixel Buds wireless headphones.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Google’s biggest conference of the year is going virtual – here’s how to watch all the announcements

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Sundar Pichai Google IO
Google CEO Sundar Pichai at the company’s I/O developer conference in 2018.

  • This year’s Google I/O developer conference is a virtual event with major announcements planned.
  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai will deliver the Google I/O Keynote at 1 p.m. ET on May 18.
  • We expect to see Google’s Pixel 5a smartphone, new Pixel Buds, and new Android features.

Google I/O, the tech giant’s annual developer conference, will be a virtual event this year with CEO Sundar Pichai delivering the keynote address at 1 p.m. ET on May 18. Google I/O will run from May 18 to May 20 with a series of panel discussions and speakers organized for developers and Google customers.

While the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of Google I/O in 2020, the event has typically been a site for product announcements and demonstrations of Google’s latest tech innovations.

What to expect at Google I/O 2021

Early leaks indicate that Google could be ready to unveil the Pixel 5a, the more affordable version of its flagship smartphone, as well as a budget-friendly version of Google’s Pixel Bud wireless headphones.

We also expect Google to demonstrate new features coming to Android and apps like Google Maps with its next major software update.

At Google I/O 2019 the company showed off some impressive Google Assistant and augmented reality features that were incorporated into Android 10. Google announced the first previews of Android 12 in February 2021 and the update will likely arrive in September.

How to watch Google I/O 2021

Google I/O is a virtual conference this year, starting with a keynote address at 1 p.m. ET on May 18. Programming will continue online from May 18 through May 20, with different sessions planned for developers and non-professional viewers.

You can stream sessions for free online via Google’s site with registration, and select events will also be available to watch on YouTube.

Registration for Google I/O is free and uses your Google account. Once logged into the conference portal, you’ll be asked to provide your personal information and whether you identify as a developer. You can add panels to your schedule through the Google I/O website and create your own timeline for the three-day event.

Read the original article on Business Insider