Just when you thought Google has mostly forgotten about the other incarnations of Android, it revealed a few updates related to those just before Google I/O next week. Wear OS, formerly known as Android Wear, isn’t getting a major overhaul again but it is getting a new major feature called Tiles. And more than just the advanced announcement, it seems that Google is also pushing the feature to users in advance as well.
Tiles are to Wear OS what home screen widgets are to Android phones. They are, in effect, quick access screens for wearers’ most frequently used apps and information. Google’s brief announcement focused on ease of use through simple swipe gestures.
Google also didn’t put a date on when or how Tiles will roll out to users but, with I/O 2019 just around the corner, it was expected to kick off next week. So owners of some Wear OS smartwatches were caught by surprise when they started seeing Tiles on their wrists.
There doesn’t seem to be a pattern to it, though, as the update seems to hit a random mix of brands and models. Those include the TicWatch E, Fossil Sport, and even the nearly ancient LG Watch Urbane. It is, in other words, a server-side update with no way to force it on the user’s end.
While Tiles does bring something new to the Wear OS table, it remains to be seen if such a feature will be enough to revive interest in the platform. Based on a recent study, it desperately needs that revival to increase its market share from near-irrelevance.