It has been almost a year since the first signs of a Wear OS companion app for Home Assistant started appearing in the Android app's codebase. This week, as something of an early Christmas present, we finally get to play with the first beta release of the Home Assistant Companion App for Wear OS.
The Wear OS app is somewhat a companion to the Home Assistant Companion App. You obviously don't get to view the full Lovelace dashboard on a ~1.3″ screen, as that would be pretty pointless and frustrating to use. Luckily, the creative developers working on Home Assistant have come up with some clever solutions on how to make the Home Assistant Companion App for Wear OS work best on small screens.
Table of Contents
- The Home Assistant Companion App for Wear OS
- A Home Assistant Tile for instant access
- But is Wear OS worth it?
The Home Assistant Companion App for Wear OS
After logging in to Home Assistant on your Wear OS watch, you will be able to select favourites, which will be displayed as a Material themed list. This helps decrease the duration until you can interact with the app and lets you instantly access your most frequently used toggles, without having to scroll through a large list. You can configure the favourites either directly on your Wear OS smartwatch, or by using the Home Assistant Companion App on your smartphone.
The team behind the Home Assistant Companion App for Wear OS highly recommends making use of the favourites, as these will be usable even when the rest of the app is still loading in the background.
Once you have reached the end of your favourites, you will be presented with the option to view all entities. As I have long given up on the Wear OS smartwatch platform, I currently have no way of knowing how the entities are organized. I am assuming it will be a long, alphabetically sorted list.
A Home Assistant Tile for instant access
Tiles on Wear OS are comparable to widgets on a smartphone. They offer almost instant access to features and information, by swiping the watch face to the side. The Home Assistant developers have a long history of making the most of the platforms it supports, so it should come as no surprise that they have added a Tile to the Home Assistant Companion App for Wear OS.
The Home Assistant Tile allows you to set seven actions, which are displayed with icons, to be toggled without having to open the app itself.
But is Wear OS worth it?
The current consensus on whether to purchase a new Wear OS smartwatch seems to be to wait for another couple of months at least. That is, if you don't opt for the Galaxy Watch4. But, keep in mind that some features of the Galaxy Watch4 are only accessible when using it with a Samsung smartphone.
At Google I/O 2021, held in May of the same year, Google announced a major update to the platform in the shape of Wear OS 3.0. This version incorporates features from Samsung's Tizen-based smartwatches, the visual design language from Android 12, and Fitbit exercise and lifestyle tracking. Even if you are desperate to control your smart home from your wrist using the Home Assistant Companion App for Wear OS, you will thank yourself for waiting for its broad release.
Why Home Assistant users should wait for Wear OS 3.0
Wear OS 3.0 is more than just an upgrade to the platform. A rebirth would perhaps be a more apt description. This release is so different, it will force you to perform a factory reset, when upgrading from a previous version. There are more than just surface-level changes, as the underlying Android version gets a bump by two major releases, from Android 9 to Android 11.
For the last years, Google has neglected their Android OS built for wearables. The last revision is already over a year old, and there are still improvements necessary for it to be a solid platform. Along with Qualcomm not bothering about updating their Snapdragon Wear SoC, this has led Wear OS smartwatches to become vastly inferior to their closest competitor, the Apple Watch.
Smartwatches getting Wear OS 3.0
Of the currently available smartwatches, only a handful have been confirmed to receive Wear OS 3.0, namely those using one of the Snapdragon Wear 4100/4100+ SoCs:
- Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 GPS and LTE
- Mobvoi TicWatch E3
- Fossil Gen 6
- Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS and Ultra 4G
Neither Google nor the manufacturers have announced the exact release date of Wear OS 3.0 for the confirmed smartwatches in any more detail than confirming it will happen sometime next year. We also don't know how Wear OS 3.0 will perform and what it will look like on non-Samsung devices, as Samsung has skinned their version and further customized.
An incoming Pixel Wear OS smartwatch
If you need another reason to wait, it is more or less an open secret by now that Google will release their own Wear OS smartphone, expected to be named the Pixel Watch, sometime next year. The Google Pixel Watch will undoubtedly run Wear OS 3.0 and will likely have some unique features such as those found on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.