Google has just released a new update for Wear OS, which is version H. It's a somewhat small update for Wear OS smartwatches, but there are a few key features that are rolling out as part of this update. This includes Battery Saver Mode Updates, which is going to be able to extend the battery life of your smartwatch even further, by turning on Battery Saver, which will only display the time once the battery level falls below 10-percent. That way you can still use it, at least, as a watch, even if you can't get notifications. Google is also touting Improved Off Body Efficiency. So that after 30 minutes of inactivity, your watch is going to go into deep sleep mode, so that it can conserve battery. Which seems to be the big thing here with this update to Wear OS, is saving even more battery on your smartwatch.
There are a couple of other features being touted in this update as well. That includes Smart App Resume for all apps. This means that you can easily pick up where you left off across all apps on your watch. Instead of needing to wait for the app to be redrawn and opened once again. Then there is Two Step Power Off. So now you can turn off your watch in just two steps. Simply hold the power button until you see the power off screen and then you can select the "power off" or "restart" button. This makes it the same process as turning off your smartphone, making it more uniform across Android devices. There's no set date for when this is going to start rolling out to all the Wear OS smartwatches out there right now, but Google says that it will be "progressively rolling out over the coming months." This is because Google has to work with its partners to get these updates rolled out to the smartwatches running on Wear OS. Google also mentions that eligibility for this update will be determined by your watch manufacturer, and is not including a list of those smartwatches that can get this update, unfortunately.
Background: Wear OS, which is formerly Android Wear, is Google's smartwatch operating system, that is really built for all wearables, but has only been used for smartwatches so far. Google has been pushing out a lot of somewhat major updates to Wear OS over the past few months, including that huge update that changed the operating system, visually back in September. That update made everything have a black background, which was smart for Google, seeing as most smartwatches do have an OLED display, and a black background would not only look nicer, but also conserve battery life a bit better. Google also made notifications much easier to read, as you can just scroll through, instead of swiping through and having them cover up your watch face. Now with this update, it's a somewhat small update, but still brings in a few key features. It seems that Google is still working on polishing Wear OS, which is something it should have done a few years ago, actually.
Smartwatches are pretty popular these days, but sadly not Wear OS, and that mostly comes down to software that Google has here. That makes it a good thing that Google is really starting to focus pretty heavily on its software for Wear OS, so that users will want to use a Wear OS smartwatch over something else. Google has even seen some of its partners going off to another operating system – like Huawei recently – over Wear OS, for a few different reasons. The main one being battery life. That has always been a problem for Google and Wear OS, since Android Wear debuted back in 2014. And it likely will continue to be an issue, because you can still add in a large battery, but people want thinner smartwatches, which means smaller batteries. And that is because smartwatches are already pretty big and bulky on your wrist. Google also needs to figure out these updates. Every time Google rolls out an update to Wear OS, no one knows which smartwatches are going to get the update, or when. Users shouldn't need to wait months to get the update on their smartwatch, especially one that is as small as this one. Since Google isn't allowing smartwatch makers to really customize the software on their smartwatches, they should be able to easily update all smartwatches, no matter who the manufacturer is – it's not like Google needs carrier permission to roll out these updates anyways. It's the same issue as with smartphones, but with Wear OS, there is no skin or customization like on smartphones, which is the number one reason why updates take so long. So it makes no sense why Wear OS updates take so long, nor why Google can't just say which smartwatches will get updated.
Impact: This update isn't the biggest update from Google, for Wear OS, but it is a pretty significant one, for battery life. That is always the number one complaint that users have in regards to wearables, is that the battery only lasts a day or sometimes a bit longer. Hopefully the new Battery Saver Mode updates will help address that a bit. Though, the hardware in the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 is really going to help address that, however, there are currently only two smartwatches that sport that chipset right now. The version H update is going to be rolling out soon, though it's anyone's guess as to which smartwatch is going to get it first and which will actually get it. Hopefully manufacturers will come out and say which smartwatches will be getting updated. It wouldn't be a surprise to see all smartwatches that launched in the past year, to get this update. Seeing as it is a pretty small update from Google. But we should know more about which smartwatches are getting this update in the near future, as partners announce which models will be updated.