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Google is sprucing up its Wear OS for smartwatches to ensure that key information is just a swipe away.

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Arriving on Android smartwatches over the next month, the latest update to Wear OS will bring easier access to notifications, help from Google Assistant, and smarter health and workout coaching, according to a blog post from Google. The overarching goal of the new update is to reduce the amount of time and steps required to use certain features.

With the Apple Watch the dominant player in the smartwatch market, the onus is on Google to make its own watch OS more effective and convenient to use. Borrowing some tricks from Apple, such as smoother notifications and help from its voice assistant, should help Android watch wearers more quickly and easily navigate their devices.

First on the list is a new notification stream. Swiping up will reveal all your notifications in one shot. You can tap any notification to respond to it with a smart reply. Swiping down will call up such features and shortcuts as Google Pay or "Find my Phone," Google explained.

Next, you'll be able to get help from Google Assistant. If you're going to the airport, for example, swipe right to trigger the assistant to display your flight status, hotel reservation, weather, and restaurant suggestions. If you're heading out in the morning, Google Assistant could show you your meetings and alert you to delays in your commute time.

"The Google Assistant will also suggest features you may not have tried yet and will become more helpful over time as it gets to know you and as we add new features," Google added.

And when it's time for exercise, you'll be able to swipe left on the watch to kick off a workout or check your fitness goals. The new access to your workouts follows an update to the Google Fit health and activity tracking app. Geared for Android and Wear OS, Google Fit has added two new activity goals. Heart Points gives you credit for moderate and intense exercise, while Move Minutes gives you kudos for smaller but still healthy accomplishments you make throughout your day.

The new features to Wear OS are rolling out over the next month but may vary based on the version of Android on your phone as well as by watch and country.

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Takeaways

  1. Google is updating its Wear OS for smartwatches with quicker notifications, help from Google Assistant, and quicker access to workouts.
  2. The goal of the latest update is to make it easier and faster to see and use key features and information.

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Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books - "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time" and "Teach Yourself VISUALLY LinkedIn."