Samsung is updating the Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Watch Active with many new features that were introduced with the Galaxy Watch Active 2, our choice for the best smart watch for Android users. These include new functionality for Bixby Voice, more options for personalizing its watches, new Samsung health features, and a touch-screen interface for the Galaxy Watch Active.
Adding the touch panel interface to the Galaxy Watch Active should be especially welcome after complaining in our review that it lacks the rotating arm of Samsung's previous smart watches. The touchpad interface felt intuitive when we previewed the Galaxy Watch Active 2, so hopefully it will translate well to its predecessor. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Watch already has a rotating mechanical panel.
Samsung is also changing a number of UX elements on both Tizen-based smart watches. The application icons for use have been moved, the current time is visible while using the stopwatch or during the call, and the icons on the fast panel of the clock are now easier to customize. There are also new customization options, including 24 new dials and complications for a total of 41
Bixby also receives some updates to its functionality on both clocks. Samsung says its voice assistant can now be used to start routine exercises and control SmartThings devices and that it already works in multiple languages, including French, German, Spanish, Italian and, uh … British English? Given our experience with the Galaxy Watch Active 2, the new functionality is unlikely to be a revolution. On Active 2, we noted that Bixby is still the hallmark of smartwatch and that the voice assistant can often feel inadequate and restrictive.
Finally, Samsung Health gets several new features on both watches. The Daily Active feature will now keep track of fitness goals and lap times when running or biking, and there is a new low heart rate alert feature. However, given that we called the Galaxy Watch Active 2 the "smart watch first and fitness tracking second," you probably need to set reasonable expectations for the new functionality.
Regardless, it's great to see that two of Samsung's previous smart watches receive major updates, especially when you can get the Galaxy Watch Active for about $ 80 less than its successor at Samsung's American Store. You'll get a slightly smaller screen and battery, but the two clocks share the same Exynos 9110 chipset. Plus, while you wouldn't save any money by choosing the Galaxy Watch over any active model, it's the one that should continue if you need a mechanically rotating panel.
Samsung says that new updates are spreading across the region, by region, starting today.