Smartwatches are rather curious little gadgets that are like miniaturized and watered-down versions of our smartwatches. For better or worse, that means that smartwatches can’t really use the same interaction conventions and UIs that are almost second nature on smartphones. While touch screens and buttons are always an option, Google has been pushing for more hands-free controls on Wear OS using Google Assistant. Unfortunately, an important part of the process has been broken for months before the company committed to working on a fix.
If Google’s vision is to be followed, smartwatches will primarily be controlled by voice with the screen simply providing visual feedback in addition to spoken responses. Google Assistant is perfect for that role and there are multiple ways to call it up on your wrist. The most convenient is, of course, to literally call it up with “OK, Google” or “Hey, Google” but, unfortunately, that is also the most broken method at the moment.
Users have been complaining that the wake words just don’t work on their Wear OS smartwatches, no matter the brand. It has apparently been the case since November last year but there are also claims that the problem was present even back in June 2020. During that period, Google has seemingly been silent, which naturally caused a lot of disappointment among Wear OS users.
The good news is that Google is no longer silent. It told The Verge that it is aware of users reporting issues and will work with its partners to address those. It doesn’t explain, however, why it took so long for it to even respond to the numerous and loud complaints.
Google also hasn’t given a timeline for the availability of the fix, which could still take weeks or even months. Unfortunately, the incident has opened up old wounds about the state of Wear OS and the dissatisfaction users have over its development or lack of it.