At its I/O 2022 consumer keynote Wednesday, Google announced a series of updates targeting Wear OS and Android tablets designed to upgrade user experiences across devices — not just limited to phones. One of the major updates to Wear OS is the quick access to Emergency SOS. Google is also bringing Google Assistant support to smartwatches. In addition, Android-based tablets get updated Google apps. Google has introduced a separately updated Google Wallet on Android to support payment cards, transportation and event tickets, and even student IDs.

By bringing Emergency SOS to Wear OS, Google has started allowing users to directly contact their trusted family members or call an emergency service from their smartwatch. The Mountain View, California-based company is working with several partners to make the new feature possible.

Wear OS devices get the Emergency SOS alert feature Photo Credit: Google.

Google also talked about the Emergency Location Services (ELS) feature designed to help first responders locate you when you call for help in a medical emergency or natural disaster. The company said it was launched earlier this year in Bulgaria, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia, and Spain, among others, and is now available to more than a billion people worldwide.

In addition to ELS, Google has Early Earthquake Warnings in 25 countries that it will expand to “many of the remaining risk areas” around the world.

The Google Assistant experience on Wear OS can be used for natural speech interactions and access to features such as voice navigation or setting reminders. Later in Wear OS, Google said at I/O 2022 that it is bringing Google Assistant to Samsung Galaxy watches. For starters, it will be available soon on the Galaxy Watch 4 series.

Google I/O

Google is also bringing more apps to Wear OS. These apps, like SoundCloud and Deezer, will appear on Wear OS-based smartwatches later this year. Apps such as Adidas Running, Spotify, Line, and KakaoTalk have already received significant updates to enhance the experience.

At last year’s I/O keynote in May, Google announced its partnership with Samsung, which includes combining Tizen with Wear OS. The company showed positivity from that move, saying there are now three times as many active Wear OS devices as last year. However, the number of active Wear OS users has not yet been disclosed.

Google has also revealed new Wear OS devices coming later this year from the likes of Samsung, Fossil Group, Montblanc, and Mobvoi.

Google announced at its I/O 2022 keynote for tablets that it would update more than 20 Google apps in the coming weeks to “take full advantage” of the additional screen real estate. These include YouTube Music, Google Maps, and Messages, among others.

Google also said it was partnering with other apps, including TikTok, Zoom, and Facebook, to improve their experiences for users on Android tablets.

TikTok is optimized for Android tabletsPhoto Credit: Google.

In addition, users can copy a URL or image from their phone and paste it onto their tablet.

On Android, in general, Google is launching virtual cards available in Chrome and at the system level to help users make payments easily without manually entering card details such as the CVV at checkout.

Google is also extending Fast Pair support to more devices so users can easily set up and pair their devices. The expansion was originally limited to earbuds and has recently reached Bluetooth headphones, Chromebooks, and smart TVs.

The Google Wallet app on Android will also become an integrated platform to give people access to payment cards, transportation, event tickets, boarding and loyalty cards, and student IDs. It will also be able to store virtual car keys and vaccination data, as well as digital driver’s licenses and official IDs. Google essentially makes its Wallet app on Android similar to Apple’s Wallet.

However, in addition to adding the new features to the Wallet app, the Android maker is working on updating its integrations with other Google apps and services. For example, this allows users to view their transit card balance in Google Maps when searching for directions once the map is added to the Wallet. Users can add a fare to their transit map from Google Maps by tapping the map information.

Google Maps is getting a Google Wallet integration that will allow you to add a fare to your transit card. Photo credit seamlessly: Google.

Google Wallet is also coming on Wear OS, with initial support for payment cards.

In addition to the Wallet updates, Google has announced that it will update the Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging experience by adding encryption to group conversations. The company said it would roll out in open beta later this year.

Google also announced the expansion of its casting capabilities to devices, including Chromebook and Android Auto in-car systems.


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