Wear OS just got a very useful upgrade, and it’s all thanks to Google Maps. While having turn-by-turn directions on your wrist is nothing new, it’s now possible to get Google Maps directions on your wrist without being connected to a smartphone.
Google announced (opens in new tab) the news earlier this week, and means anyone rocking a Google Pixel Watch or some other Wear OS device can find their way without needing to carry around a phone. Assuming, of course, that your watch has an active LTE plan.
Google says this standalone turn-by-turn will work when you’re connected to Wi-Fi. But that is going to limit its usefulness when you're out exploring the world. Thankfully, the Pixel Watch is only available with LTE, and there are no shortage of alternative brands with 4G support to choose from.
The launch of this feature, six months after Google and Samsung originally announced it, is going to be a great help to people who may prefer to leave their phone at home. Runners and cyclists immediately come to mind, as do people in unfamiliar areas that want to avoid travelling with too many valuables. It also means you’re not stuck, should your phone ever break or run out of battery.
Even if you do have a smartphone, the benefits of getting directions on your wrist make this feature worth using. Your wrist is usually easier to access than wherever you’re keeping your phone, and no connection means less drain on your phone’s battery. This also means your phone is kept out of sight, and out of reach of any opportunistic thieves that may be in the area.
It’s just amazing that Google took this long to bring LTE turn-by-turn directions to Wear OS. LTE smartwatches aren’t exactly news, and the Apple Watch has been able to access Apple Maps without an active iPhone connection for some time. But, as they say, it’s better late than never.
You can use this new feature the same way you would if your watch is connected to your phone. Simply open Google Maps on your wrist, search for the place you want to go, and the watch will do what it needs to do.