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Samsung’s new Google-based smartwatch software addresses a lot of old annoyances

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Coming to a new Galaxy Watch device later this summer

Samsung has taken the wraps off it and Google’s new unified smartwatch platform at MWC 2021 — sort of. The company isn’t announcing a new Galaxy Watch today, or even what the new platform will be called (it’s unofficially referred to as Wear); those announcements will come later this summer at a proper Galaxy Unpacked event. But what Samsung did show off was a first look at what its new One UI Watch software will look like, and it elaborated on just what the new Google / Samsung partnership could mean for future Galaxy Watches.

To be clear: what Samsung is showing of One UI Watch won’t be what all smartwatches built on the new unified Google / Samsung platform look like — it’s an added layer on top specifically for Samsung devices. It’s similar to what Samsung’s One UI does for Samsung’s smartphones. The goal is a consistent look and experience across all of Samsung’s hardware and software, and so far it looks lovely.

The Settings menu has been redesigned to look more like the phone’s menu, and things sync from the phone: if you have additional time zones set in your clock app, they’ll be there on the watch, and blocked callers on the phone will be blocked on watches, too. Samsung also showed off a new watchface design tool, which will be available for Android developers later this year to easily create new watchfaces for the platform. It’s unclear yet if current Tizen or Wear OS watchfaces will work with the new OS or One UI Watch, but the current options have also been seriously lacking, so any new choices — even ones largely reliant on developers — are welcome.

Samsung’s new watchface design tool.
Image: Samsung

Best of all, similar to the Apple Watch, when you install a smartwatch-compatible app on your phone, the corresponding watch app will automatically install on the watch as well. You won't need to manually install anything as you currently do on Tizen-based watches, or deal with the weird on-wrist app store that has made getting apps on Wear OS frustrating. You’ll just download an app to your phone and it should appear directly on your wrist, too.

The new One UI Watch experience is expected to first appear on Samsung wearables at a Samsung Unpacked event later this year. Given other recent Samsung hardware rumors, it sounds like this Unpacked should be a big flipping deal.

Update June 28th, 1:43PM ET: Added images from Samsung’s Mobile World Congress 2021 presentation.

Correction: Samsung’s new watchface designer will be available to developers later this year, not next year as we originally said. We regret the error.