Fossil Adds Alexa to Google Wear OS Smartwatch
Fossil’s Skagen Falster Gen 6 smartwatch has added Alexa to the voice assistant options on the Google Wear OS device. The slightly limited version of the voice assistant has been teased since the watch launched earlier this year with a pre-installed Amazon Alexa app opening only to a promise that it was “coming soon.”
Fossil subsidiary Skagen had only previously said the Alexa support would arrive at some point this year. An update to the Alexa app on Fossil and Skagen Gen 6 smartwatches appeared without fanfare to make it possible. Once the wearer gives microphone permission to the app, they have to connect it to a smartphone Alexa app tied to an Amazon account. After it’s paired, the Alexa app on the watch works much like the smartphone version. There are two notable limitations for Alexa compared to the Google Assistant app built into the phone. Alexa isn’t always on, so you might want a shortcut button set up on the watch to awaken the voice assistant. Also, while the wearer can talk to Alexa, the responses aren’t verbal, just written out in text on the watch.
Smartwatches are growing into the voice assistants connected to them more now after a relatively slow buildup. Fitbit’s OS upgrade last year was the first to give Google Assistant a speaking voice on the Fitbit Versa 3 and Fitbit Sense smartwatches. That update happened around six months after the voice assistant became available on those smartwatches, which is also when Fitbit provided Alexa with audible responses on those same devices. Still, with Google completing its purchase of Fitbit and starting to shift strategy last year, Amazon unsurprisingly decided to up Alexa’s presence own fitness band and smartwatch brand, Halo.
Meanwhile, Google and Samsung have been working on their own unified wearables platform. Google Assistant has been the exclusive Wear OS voice assistant up until now, with a long press on the crown of the watch activating it on smartwatches running it. That started changing last year. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 was the first run the new Wear OS 3 and offer both Google Assistant and Bixby as part of Samsung’s One UI Watch design.