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The Galaxy Watch 4 still doesn't have Google Assistant, 3 months after launch
It’s been three months since Samsung started selling the Galaxy Watch 4, the latest iteration in its Galaxy Watch series and the first one to eschew Tizen for Google’s homegrown wearable platform. Unlike every other Wear OS manufacturer, Samsung was given many liberties with its watch. It runs a more customized skin than what we’ve seen from the likes of Fossil or Mobvoi, it connects with Samsung’s special Galaxy Wear app instead of Google’s generic one, and it privileges Samsung services. This is true for health and activity tracking, mobile payments, and voice commands. However, while you already have the option to install Google Fit and Pay on the Watch 4, Assistant is still nowhere to be found.
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The story goes back to the time of the Galaxy Watch 4’s announcement. Everyone complained about the lack of Google Pay and Assistant support then. The former was quickly added and made available by the time the watch shipped to buyers. But Samsung told Android Authority that the latter wouldn’t be there at launch but should be available at a later date. In the meantime, everyone has had to contend with using Bixby for voice commands instead.
It’s been three months, and the situation has not changed at all. There’s that “Digital Assistant app” picker in the Watch 4’s settings menu taunting us all, but you can only choose between “none” and Bixby. Several updates have also rolled out to the watch, bringing new faces and additional shortcuts without any change on the voice assistant front.
This lack of Google Assistant is perplexing. Technically speaking, the service works on the platform, even though it is notoriously buggy and unreliable. I don’t think it’s a matter of Bixby exclusivity either. For one, I believe Samsung would’ve chosen Samsung Pay or Samsung Health instead of Bixby as a hill to die on. For two, the version of Bixby that we got on the Watch 4 is very restricted compared to previous Tizen watches and doesn’t seem to be receiving any love from the company. (One could almost think it was developed as a stop-gap solution, not a long-term one.) And since Samsung was supposedly already considering Assistant in August — if not working on it — then three months should have been enough time to bring it on board.
That leaves us scratching our heads. The absence of Assistant is one of the complaints we highlighted when we reviewed the Watch 4, and we’re not the only ones still wondering where it is and what happened to it. Multiple threads on Reddit, Google’s support forums, and Samsung Community show users getting antsy about it too. Theories abound, from the project being delayed to unceremoniously dumped. Whether it was Samsung that noticed how fickle Assistant is on Wear OS or Google that decided to dedicate some time to developing a better version, or some other bureaucratic or technological hurdle, we don’t know. The result is the same regardless: We’re still waiting.
We’ve reached out to both Google and Samsung for comment on this matter, and we will update this post if we receive any statement from either company.