Google at the I/O 2022 consumer keynote on Wednesday announced a series of updates aiming at Wear OS and Android tablets that are designed to upgrade user experiences across devices — not just limited to phones. One of the most important updates coming to Wear OS is the quick access to Emergency SOS. Google is also bringing Google Assistant support to smartwatches. Additionally, tablets based on Android are getting updated Google apps. Google separately introduced updated Google Wallet on Android to support things such as payment cards, transit and event tickets, and even student IDs.
By bringing Emergency SOS to Wear OS, Google has started allowing its users instantly contact their trusted family member or call an emergency service directly from their smartwatch. The Mountain View, California-headquartered company said that it is working with various partners to enable the new feature.
Google also talked about the Emergency Location Services (ELS) feature that is designed to help first responders to locate you when you call for help in case of a medical emergency or natural disaster. It was launched in markets including Bulgaria, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia, and Spain earlier this year and is now available to more than one billion people worldwide, the company said.
In addition to ELS, Google has Early Earthquake Warnings in 25 countries that it is set to expand to “many of the remaining high-risk regions” around the world.
Further on Wear OS, Google said at the I/O 2022 that it is bringing Google Assistant to Samsung Galaxy watches. It will soon be available on the Galaxy Watch 4 series to begin with. The Google Assistant experience on Wear OS can be used for natural voice interactions and accessing features such as voice-controlled navigation or setting reminders.
Google is also bringing more apps to Wear OS. These will apps such as SoundCloud and Deezer that will debut on smartwatches based on Wear OS later this year. Apps including Adidas Running, Spotify, Line, and KakaoTalk have already received significant updates to deliver an improved experience.
At last year’s I/O keynote in May, Google announced its partnership with Samsung under which Tizen is combining with Wear OS. The company showed positivity of that move by saying that there are now three times as many active Wear OS devices as there were last year. However, exact number of active Wear OS users have not yet been revealed.
For tablets, Google at the I/O 2022 keynote announced that it is updating more than 20 Google apps over the next few weeks to take “full advantage” of the additional screen space. These will include YouTube Music, Google Maps, and Messages, among others.
Additionally, users will be able to copy a URL or picture from their phones and paste them on your tablet.
On Android in general, Google is launching virtual cards that will be available on Chrome and at the system level to help users easily make payments, without requiring them to manually enter card details such as the CVV when checking out.
Google is also expanding Fast Pair support to more devices to let users easily set up and pair their devices. The expansion was originally limited to earbuds and recently reached Bluetooth headphones, Chromebooks, and smart TVs.
The Google Wallet app on Android is also becoming a unified platform to help people access their payment cards, transit and event tickets, boarding and loyalty passes, and student IDs. It will also be able to save virtual car keys and vaccine records as well as digital driver’s licence and official IDs. Google is essentially making its Wallet app on Android similar to Apple’s Wallet.
However, in addition to adding the new features to the Wallet app, the Android maker is working on updating its integrations with other Google apps and services. This will, for instance, allow users to view their transit card balance in Google Maps when search for directions once the card is added to the Wallet. Users will also be able to add fare to their transit card from Google Maps by tapping the card information.
Google Wallet is also coming on Wear OS, with initial support for payment cards.
Alongside the Wallet updates, Google announced that it is updating Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging experience by bringing encryption to group conversations. It will be rolled out in an open beta later this year, the company said.
Google additionally announced extension of casting capabilities to devices including Chromebook and Android Auto in-car systems.