Wear OS isn't quite in a place to compete directly with gadgets like the Apple Watch and Samsung's wearables, but it's not time to throw in the towel just yet. For the first time in years, Google is bringing an all-new app to its smartwatch lineup, designed to improve communication from your wrist. Gboard is finally coming to Wear OS, complete with a fresh design and multi-language support. We've also got a link to download it at the bottom of this post.
Up until now, text input on Google's lineup of smartwatches hasn't changed much since Android Wear 2.0 was released nearly five years ago. This new keyboard is essentially a massive update to the already-existing APK, marking the first time it's been branded as Gboard on Wear OS. It's a huge improvement for anyone replying to messages, searching for new apps on the Play Store, or doing anything else that requires a keyboard.
Message the way you want to with the new Gboard ⌨️ on #WearOSbyGoogle.
Multiple ways to message like voice, QWERTY keyboard or gestures ✔️
Enhanced suggestions and corrections ✔️
Multi-language support ✔️
— Wear OS by Google (@WearOSbyGoogle) May 6, 2021
Wear OS's new keyboard keeps around gestures, voice input, and a full QWERTY keyboard, but with a streamlined new design. Word suggestions are now scrollable, with more options appearing along the top of the keyboard while you're texting to help skip typing out complete sentences. Finally, Google is also adding multi-language support directly into Gboard, with the ability to change and add languages by long-pressing on the spacebar.
It's the first real sign of life we've seen for Wear OS in quite some time. While new software won't entirely fix the state of wearables on Android — the TicWatch Pro 3 is still the only Snapdragon Wear 4100-powered watch you can buy today — it's a step in the right direction. Google's announcement ends by teasing future updates coming to Wear OS in 2021. With Google I/O now less than two weeks away, it seems like wearables could end up spending more time in the spotlight than anyone expected. Who knows — maybe a dedicated YouTube Music app is finally on the way.
Gboard for Wear OS will make its way out to supported watches over the coming days. To get the app right now, you can head over to APK Mirror.