Google’s smartwatch platform is getting a much-needed overhaul this year. The new, unified platform is called Wear OS 3 and it combines the expertise of Google, Samsung, and Fitbit. We already know that Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Watch 4 series will debut Wear OS 3. But what about devices from other brands? Well, it’s not very good news.
According to the official announcement, Wear OS 3 updates will not arrive on existing Wear OS smartwatches until next year. Google says it will start rolling out the updates in the “mid to second half of 2022.”
Worse yet, not many devices are eligible for this upgrade. The list of watches that will get Wear OS 3 includes “Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 GPS, TicWatch Pro 3 Cellular/LTE, TicWatch E3 and follow on TicWatch devices, as well as Fossil Group’s new generation of devices launching later this year.”
That means the new smartwatch platform, that brings tons of feature and usability improvements over the current iteration of Wear OS, will remain exclusive to the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic for almost a year. That’s saddening, to say the least.
Fossil recently said that its upcoming premium watch will be the “best possible” smartwatch this year. However, it appears the new wearable will arrive with an older operating system. If only it could run Wear OS 3 from day one, then we might have had something best indeed. After all, Galaxy Watch 4 series needs some worthy competitors. In the Android market, that is. Apple watches are in a league of their own.
Wear OS 3 is a too big overhaul for releasing the update quickly: Google
Google says this year-long delay in Wear OS 3 rollout is because of the “extent of changes” it brings. It will not only introduce new features and improvements but will impact the user experience as well. So much so that users will require to factory reset their devices after installing the update.
To that end, the company is making this an optional upgrade, thus delaying the rollout. Users of eligible devices will first need to manually opt-in for the update before the companies can start the rollout. Those who choose to not update their device will remain on Wear OS 2. Google says it will provide feature and security updates to all those devices for up to two years from the date of launch. The same software support will also be provided to Wear OS 2 devices that aren’t eligible for Wear OS 3 updates.
As the aforementioned list clearly tells, Samsung’s existing Galaxy watches won’t be upgraded to Wear OS 3 either. So the original Galaxy Watch, Watch Active, Watch Active 2, and Galaxy Watch 3, will all end their life on Tizen OS. The Korean company has promised up to three years of software updates though.
Long story short, it might not be the best time to buy an Android smartwatch unless you are getting the latest Mobvoi watches or either of the Galaxy Watch 4 models. If you want something else, the best bet would be to wait until Fossil launches its “best possible” smartwatch later this year.