When the Samsung Galaxy Watch4 was released in August, it lacked a number of capabilities that Google had advertised for the Wear OS 3 platform on which it had cooperated with Samsung, the most notable of which was Google Assistant as a voice assistant option. For the past eight months, we’ve had two speech options: Bixby or nothing — and many of us chose nothing in the hopes that Assistant will arrive soon. For so long, it’s been “coming soon.” Then, in April, through Verizon’s software update support website, we noticed the first clues of Assistant support.
Of course, the feature wasn’t available yet, so Samsung teased us with a now-deleted Watch4 ad that showed Google Assistant. It was announced during Google I/O that it will arrive “this summer,” and it appears that summer has begun. In the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, Google Assistant functionality for the Galaxy Watch4 and Galaxy Watch4 Classic is now being rolled out. On the Galaxy Watch 4, owners may install Google Assistant from the Google Play Store and use it to interact with apps on the watch, answer queries, and even set it as the default press-and-hold home button action instead of the power menu or Bixby. (Now, if only we could change the back button’s press-and-hold function to Google Pay instead of Samsung Pay.)
The Samsung Galaxy Watch4 series is one of the greatest Android smartwatches available today, and Google Assistant was one of the last Google apps to be included. Depending on how the Pixel Watch turns out this autumn, the Watch4 — or its replacement, the Galaxy Watch5 — might be the most popular Android smartwatch for a long time, especially once Health Connect arrives later this year and changes the way health apps function on and with your watch.
While Bixby is getting better, it still relies on you training a good speech model for it to recognize you, and Google Assistant has a much better track record in that regard — not to mention that it’s available on more devices and can connect to a wider range of apps and actions. If it worked, Assistant on Wear OS 2 was fantastic; emphasis on if, not when. Because most Wear OS 2 watches used obsolete chipsets, Assistant was slow and would fail roughly 30-40% of the time. Given how long this has taken, we can only hope that Google and Samsung have worked to dramatically enhance the speed and experience before releasing it to the Watch4.