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Google's new Wear OS hybrid UI has a trick to extend battery life

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Google‘s latest innovation in Wear OS is set to revolutionize the battery life of smartwatches, thanks to the introduction of a new “Wear OS hybrid interface.” Launched alongside the OnePlus Watch 2 at MWC 2024, this feature aims to significantly enhance the longevity of Wear OS devices by optimizing task management between the main application processor (AP) and the co-processor microcontroller unit (MCU).

In a recent blog post, Google detailed how the Wear OS hybrid interface intelligently switches between the MCU (microcontroller unit) and the AP, allowing the system to suspend the AP whenever possible to preserve battery life. This seamless transition between states enables the MCU to manage low-power tasks such as reading notifications, controlling the camera remotely, and monitoring health sensor data, while the main AP handles heavier tasks.

Other Wear OS devices will also see battery life improvements alongside the OnePlus Watch 2

While the OnePlus Watch 2 has already showcased the benefits of this new technology with its impressive 100-hour battery life, Google suggests that other Wear OS devices could also see improvements. The implementation of the Wear OS hybrid software varies among original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), with Google providing a framework for integrating hybrid features into different watch models.

The most widely adopted features of the hybrid interface, as noted by Google, include continuous heart rate and step monitoring using the MCU, as well as the MCU’s role in rendering and updating watch faces. However, the effectiveness of these features may vary depending on the specific chipset and co-processor architecture used by each manufacturer.

For instance, the OnePlus Watch 2 utilizes a “BES 2700 MCU Efficiency” co-processor, which may offer certain advantages over other co-processors like the Cortex M33 used by Google. This diversity in hardware configurations means that not all Wear OS watches may fully benefit from the hybrid software, as demonstrated by Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 6, which employs a different chipset without a similar co-processor system.

Despite these hardware variations, Google remains optimistic about the potential impact of the Wear OS hybrid interface on the power efficiency of the system. By optimizing power management and task allocation, Wear OS watches equipped with this technology have the potential to offer extended battery life, ultimately enhancing the usability and convenience of wearable devices in the long run.

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