Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 just got a major upgrade to challenge Google Pixel Watch

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Google Assistant
(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 will finally get Google Assistant, an upgrade that's been at the top of many user wishlists since the smartwatch came out last year.

Starting May 23, Galaxy Watch 4 users can opt for Google Assistant as their default voice assistant. Previously, users could only ask Bixby for queries. While we found Bixby fine for simple commands, Google Assistant is far better integrated with not just Android devices but other Google services connected to Gmail account, too.

Though the Galaxy Watch 4 is the best Samsung smartwatch as well as the best smartwatch for Android, and the first to run Google's unified Wear OS 3 wearable software, it lacked one of Android's most useful features until now. And the timing of this announcement couldn't be any more appropriate.

Why's that? Earlier in May, Google officially revealed the long-rumored Google Pixel Watch. It won't arrive until the fall alongside the Google Pixel 7 series, but it promises the best showing of Wear OS yet with the help of Fitbit fitness-tracking features.

As a result, we're curious about the differences between the Google Pixel Watch vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. It's more likely the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 will contend against the Pixel Watch when it comes to naming the best smartwatch of the year; yet, Google Assistant coming to the Galaxy Watch 4 seems like a good omen for Samsung's future smartwatches.

With Google Assistant, the Galaxy Watch 4 soars ahead of other compatible Wear OS 3 smartwatches. Yes, it helps that it's still the only smartwatch running Wear OS 3 on the market, but that could change soon. Third-party smartwatch brands have said their devices powered by the Snapdragon 4100 chipset will be updated to Wear OS 3 before the end of 2022.

One reason we're particularly excited to see Google Assistant arrive on the Galaxy Watch 4 has to do with LTE functionality. The Galaxy Watch 4 is one of a handful of smartwatches that support a standalone cellular plan, meaning you can stay connected to the internet and make phone calls from your wrist even when your smartphone is out of reach. We don't know yet whether the Pixel Watch will come in an LTE option.

Otherwise, getting hands-free help from Google Assistant when you're running, driving or tied up with another activity makes the Galaxy Watch much more useful. We haven't enjoyed using Google Assistant on our smartphones, but relying on Bixby on our Galaxy Watch. This upgrade perhaps brings Samsung's smartwatch closer to emulating the integrated ecosystem experience of the Apple Watch 7. (The Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch 7 is another anticipated face-off, by the way.)

Finally, it could be another reason to get the Galaxy Watch 4 if you haven't already. You can usually find it on sale, and with Amazon Prime Day 2022 presumably around the corner, it'll likely be available at record-low prices. 

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account (opens in new tab), which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.