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Google Maps on Wear OS-Powered Smartwatches Can Now Work Without a Phone

Owners of Wear OS-powered smartwatches will be delighted to know that Google has finally added support for standalone turn-by-turn navigation when using its Maps app. The feature was promised several months ago and is now finally available for Wear OS-powered smartwatches from any brand, provided they meet some minimum requirements. While turn-by-turn navigation was previously available on Wear OS-powered smartwatches, it was able to do so by relaying information from the connected smartphone. The new update now makes it possible to leave the smartphone behind.

Google has mentioned that there are a few conditions to make standalone turn-by-turn navigation possible on your Wear OS-powered smartwatch. The base requirement is the need for a smartwatch that supports LTE or cellular connectivity. Along with this comes the need for a working LTE plan. The watch will also need to be paired with an Android phone for the hand over feature (from smartphone to watch) to work. Google in its support documents also states that users can initiate turn-by-turn navigation when connected to Wi-Fi networks as well.

If the smartwatch checks the above requirements, the rest mostly happens automatically. A user can initiate turn-by-turn navigation from the watch both when connected to a smartphone or standalone. Those who prefer to use watch-based navigation only, can turn off the ‘Mirror on the phone’ by going into Settings>Mirroring.

On the watch, users need to open Maps and then use voice or keyboard tools to enter their destination. From there, they need to select a mode of transportation and get their ETA. Then hit ‘Start’ to commence the trip. Watch-based navigation is also available when a user pairs their Wear OS device with iOS handsets. Support for offline turn-by-turn navigation was announced by Google at Samsung’s last Unpacked event where the manufacturer announced its Galaxy Watch 5 series. The Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro models are powered by Google’s Wear OS operating system.

Google has also been working on an offline Find My Device service according to a recent report. Currently, Google’s Find My Device service relies on an internet-based tracking system, but competitors like Samsung and Apple have already managed to deliver an offline service that uses Bluetooth (among other things) to connect with other devices from the same brand and relay the location of a lost or stolen item.

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