Galaxy Watch 4 Finally Gets An Overdue Google Assistant Upgrade

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When it was first rumored that Samsung would move over to the Wear OS camp and ditch its Tizen-based wearable platform, there was probably more rejoicing than disappointment. While the Galaxy Watches powered by Tizen were able to stand up on their own against Wear OS and Apple's watchOS, there were gaping holes in that ecosystem, particularly when it came to apps and compatibility with many services. With the transition to Wear OS, Galaxy Watch owners finally have access to those popular apps, particularly ones from Google, but there was one curious absence in that list: Google Assistant. Almost a year later, Google and Samsung have finally gotten their act together and will give the Galaxy Watch 4 the smart assistant that it truly deserves.

For a company that once prided itself on doing things its own way, ditching the homegrown Tizen-based operating system that it had been using and growing for years must have been a bitter pill for the company to swallow. During that period, the Galaxy Watch and its Gear S predecessor had grown a faithful following who might have been sad to see Samsung let go of something unique. They may, however, not be so reluctant to see Bixby get overshadowed by Google Assistant.

Bixby is Samsung's own AI-powered virtual assistant, and it has had a colorful and checkered history, starting with one of the company's worst rollouts. Samsung's aggressive push only further soured users against the feature, even after Bixby grew up to be a mature and actually competitive assistant. Those old wounds may have been reopened when it was revealed that the Galaxy Watch 4 didn't have Google Assistant even though it was already running Google's Wear OS. That's finally changing as of May 23, and both companies are giving owners their due.

Google Assistant on the Galaxy Watch 4

Galaxy Watch 4 owners are now able to download and use Google Assistant, according to Samsung, which means being able to connect with dozens of shortcuts and web queries that are unsurprisingly better on Google than with Bixby. More importantly, it also means that users will have access to the same features and settings that they might already have with Google Assistant on their phones, including the ability to control smart appliances connected via Google Home.

As good as it may sound, there are a few catches, particularly with the availability of the app and supported language. As of the time of the announcement, Google Assistant on the Galaxy Watch 4 will only be available in ten markets, namely Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, the U.K., and the U.S. Language support is also limited to Danish, English (U.S., Canadian, U.K., Australian, Irish), Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French (Canadian, France), and Taiwanese. Hopefully, the list will be expanded soon and won't take another year of waiting.

Google Assistant can be summoned using the customary "Hey, Google" hotword, but it can also be triggered by long-pressing the watch's home button. Fortunately, you can remap that action, unlike in the early days of Bixby on smartphones when it was an all-in setting. And yes, Bixby will still remain on the Galaxy Watch 4, so you can pick and choose which assistant you want to use. As long as Bixby exists in other devices, it's unlikely it will ever vanish from your wrist as well.