Google made a consumer-pleasing announcement today during Samsung’s Unpacked event, which presented the world to Samsung’s latest foldable devices and the latest version of its Wear OS-powered smartwatches. Wear OS-powered watches (version numbers unclear) will be able to use Google Maps for navigation later this year.
Unfortunately, your phone must still be paired with your Wear OS watch in order to receive turn-by-turn navigation. In the future, however, this will no longer be essential. Google Maps for Wear OS will allow navigation without a phone, Google announced during Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked presentation.
Google says this will let you run or bike without your phone while using Maps navigation.
This feature won’t be available until later this year, according to Google’s statement. It did not even specify which watches would be compatible. However, given that Google’s announcement coincided with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, it’s a reasonable guess that the feature will debut on that device first.
Google did not specify whether this capability will be unique to LTE watches. Theoretically, you could initiate a fresh navigation session while your phone is link through Bluetooth. Then, you could leave your phone behind because the watch would continue to navigate using the data it downloaded before you began. However, LTE-enabled watches would likely not experience this limitation and would be more effective.
We must observe the functionality of this new Google Maps feature on Wear OS. Google’s implementation of this feature on Wear OS should not take as long as Google Assistant support.
Since this news made its way during the formal unveiling of the Galaxy Watch 5 line, you can bet your bottom dollar that Samsung’s freshest and best smartwatches will have first dibs on it. It is also unclear whether the related technology will restrict the feature to LTE-capable handsets, although this constraint appears likely.