Hands-on: Tizen 4 on the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active gets a revamped UI and better Bixby in the latest update
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active is one of the best smartwatches for all Android phones. It’s got great compatibility, design, battery life, and is very light. Depending on your point of view, one of the best things about it is it’s not running Google’s Wear OS. The Galaxy Watch Active is running Tizen 4, and after the latest update, it has One UI 1.2 as well. Let’s take a look at some of the changes.
The Galaxy Watch Active’s new update tweaks some things to improve the experience without the rotating bezel. The app drawer is now slightly more optimized for swiping. Before, there were little icons at the top that would allow you to switch between pages. Now, all you can do is swipe instead of pressing the icon. It should be noted that you could also swipe before this update, but Samsung cleaned up the animation and made it work better. This is a small change, but it always felt like Samsung just threw the same software onto the watch with different hardware.
The next major change is actually with Bixby. I know most people just ignore Bixby’s existence, but it can actually be useful on a watch. Before the new update, Bixby felt like S Voice with a new icon. The original Bixby on the watch and S Voice didn’t even sound different. After the update, Bixby actually sounds and feels like Bixby from Samsung phones. It even has a similar settings panel and app support to Bixby 2.0 on phones with One UI. (Then again, you could just use Google Assistant…)
Goodnight mode is another pretty cool change. It tries to limit your use of the watch and keep you away from checking your notifications. It makes it harder to check your apps and notifications. To continue to do so, you need to either turn off goodnight mode or hit the home button. It’s not making it impossible, but it just adds a little barrier to make the process more difficult and hopefully keep you away.
Another very minor change I noticed after playing with this update is with icons. The theater mode icon in the watch’s quick settings has been redesigned. Before, it had a confusing-looking curved display. It was hard to tell what it was unless you knew ahead of time. Now, the new icon is much easier to see and actually know what it means.
Along with these new features and minor changes, we do have some actually useful updates. The Galaxy Watch Active can now automatically track swimming and input it into Samsung Health. There is also a new warning for minimum and maximum heart rates. These will warn you if your heart rate is above or below a certain point without doing exercise. This feature will likely be tied to ECG support in the Watch Active 2.
All of these updates are really nice and just reinforces my perception of the Galaxy Watch Active being the best smartwatch for Android. These changes will also pave the way for the Galaxy Watch Active 2 when it’s announced next month. Wear OS as a platform doesn’t see much movement these days, but Samsung is charging ahead with their smartwatches and software.