Version 2.3 of Google's Android-based Wear OS for smartwatches is now reportedly rolling out with a bare minimum of changes. Spotted on Reddit by tech blog PhoneRadar, users note that there don't appear to be any big user-facing differences at all and under-the-hood improvements are scant too. The source notes that Wear OS 2.3 brings some improvements to health features and Google Assistant should be more 'proactive' following the update.
The Google Home app gets an even more slight step forward from version 2.20 to version 2.21 with the new iteration of Wear OS. Perhaps more concerning, it appears as though Google hasn't included a security patch update with the new firmware either.
The incredible shrinking Wear OS update
The latest of Google's updates to Wear OS may be the smallest it has pushed to date and contain the fewest noticeable changes. The search giant may have included further updates under the hood but no visible changes to Google Play Services or similar framework appear to have been delivered with Wear OS 2.3.
Looking back over the past several updates, in fact, Google seems to be slowly downsizing its efforts on the wearable front.
In version 2.2 of the firmware, dubbed 'H' when it was launched in November, incorporated considerable improvements to Battery Saver Mode, among other things. On the energy-saving side of the update, having Battery Saver activated now only allows the watch to display the time after the battery falls below 10-percent charged. No incoming notifications will be received but that will keep the device alive for longer.
Wear OS 2.2 also included changes to make Off Body Efficiency better, conserving battery life by entering a deep sleep mode after 30 minutes of inactivity.
For performance, the prior update also enabled Smart App Resume across all Wear OS apps. That allowed users to leave an on-watch application and return to interacting with the software later, picking up right where they left off.
Finally, the previous version of Wear OS turned on Two Step Power Off features, bringing the wearables more in line with Android OS on mobile. Rather than having the device simply shut off while holding the power button, or following a manufacturer-implemented power-off cycle, that ensured that turning a Wear OS wearable off was a two-step process. After the update, users need to press the power button as normal and then choose whether to restart the watch or turn it off completely.
Wear OS 2.1 was arguably an even bigger update, bringing comprehensive changes to Google Assistant, improved gestures and swipe functionality, and a more universal experience across all watches.
Holdouts on universality
Overarching changes are generally expected only with larger updates such as a switch from version 2.0 to version 3.0 but the minimal differences in this firmware are accented by a bigger problem for some users. The update to Wear OS 2.2 'H' has still not finished rolling out for many users, compounding the complaints from users online.
There doesn't seem to be a clear pattern to the rollout of the latest update either. In spite of the fact that rollouts can take weeks or months, that's leaving some users confused about why they haven't received it yet for their wearables while others have.