Google is overhauling Wear OS notifications to usher in mammoth battery improvements

MWC 2024: Much-needed tweaks are also coming to Wallet and Maps
Wareable Wear OS battery update
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Google has announced a raft of new features and improvements for the Wear OS platform at MWC 2024, including a new 'hybrid interface' that promises to provide a major boost to battery life. 

Coupled with the official confirmation of the OnePlus Watch 2, Google has detailed a dual-chipset system whereby the smartwatch can process notifications much more efficiently. 

The change allows Wear OS vendors (not just OnePlus) to offload notifications to the watch's low-power co-processor microcontroller unit (MCU).

In the past, these would have been handled by the device's application processor (AP), which is really better at handling power-hungry applications. Now, this can now stay inactive for longer periods and contribute to improved power efficiency, Google says.

Google also notes this will enable battery life to be extended to up to 100 hours of regular use with "all functionalities accessible in Smart Mode" on the OnePlus Watch 2, with it also likely this kind of efficiency could arrive on the Galaxy Watch 7 and Pixel Watch 3 later this year.

GoogleGoogle Wear OS hybrid architechture


Google's blog post also hints that the hybrid architecture will benefit fitness features and watch faces, too. 

"The Wear OS hybrid interface also elevates the fitness experience with more precise workout tracking, automatic sports recognition, and smarter health data monitoring. All of these can be offered to users without compromising battery life," Google notes.

Developers who made faces with Google's Watch Face Format - unveiled as part of Wear OS 4 - will also be able to render their creations on the MCU, meaning they should be able to take advantage of future optimizations coming to the platform.

Tweaks coming to Wallet and Maps

Wareablegoogle maps changes

The hybrid interface may be the big news for the wider Wear OS ecosystem, but the more immediate changes will be coming to the Google Maps and Wallet apps.

For the former, public transit directions will now finally be possible from the wrist, meaning users can leave their phones pocketed when taking the bus or train (or ferry, if that's your preferred route). Previously, this was only possible when your route comprised walking or driving steps.

For Google Wallet, the likes of boarding passes, gym memberships, loyalty cards, and more will also come to the platform - at last. This won't work any differently from your regular payment cards - and they should appear in the app from today.

For Fitbit or Pixel Watch users, there's also another bonus the company has unveiled - Google Health Connect has been expanded to include the Fitbit app

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Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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