The new Wear OS is still months away from now, but there are still some things we know about what it brings to the table. Google has been quiet on which current devices will get the update to it. But during the Google IO keynote on May 18, it did share some details about what to expect from the new version of its wearables platform.
Better battery life is probably the biggest thing coming. But there’s due to be a whole lot more to see down the road. Even if Google doesn’t share anything more about the platform until it launches.
With that said, Google could very well provide incremental updates on the platform’s progress leading up to the launch. So this guide will break down everything there is to know about the new Wear OS platform both leading up to its release and afterwards. We’ll update this post periodically as more information becomes available.
The new Wear OS is a unified platform
If you missed the keynote from Google IO earlier this year, you can watch a roughly 9-minute recap of the biggest parts here. But in regards to Wear OS specifically, if you missed the keynote then you missed that Google is unifying Wear OS with Samsung’s Tizen OS.
The two platforms will come together as one platform, though not everything from both platforms will be available in this new version.
As for what the new unified platform includes, there’s not a ton of specifics yet but Google has highlighted some things. Both Wear OS and Tizen OS have their strengths. So going forward users will be getting the best of both worlds. Which is exactly what Google and Samsung are trying to offer.
Google is officially calling the new platform Wear OS 3
A recent support forum post from Google about the new Wear OS platform refers to it as Wear OS 3, confirming that this will be the official name for the software. This goes for any watches that are eligible to receive the upgrade to the software, as well as those that will launch with it out of the box.
It’s reasonable to have suspected that because Google was making this a new unified platform with Samsung, that it would come with a new name. But Google is choosing to keep the Wear OS name and simply add the new version number.
New apps and tiles are coming
If you like third-party apps on your smartwatches, then this new version of Wear OS is going to be right up your alley. Google has even shared some of the apps and tiles that are going to be available once the new version of the OS rolls out.
This includes YouTube Music, Google Maps, and Google Pay for the apps. While there’s not really any information about these revamped apps yet, Google did share renders of what these apps will look like.
Beyond the apps, Google is refreshing the looks of many of its most popular Tiles. Like weather, the alarm clock, the hand washing timer, Google News, and Google Calendar just to name a few. There’s also going to be a new Tile added dedicated to Fitbit’s Active Zone Minutes feature.
You can expect Tiles from third-party apps too. Like Spotify, Strava and others. As Google will be opening up the new Tiles API to third-party developers when the new Wear OS gets pushed out.
Samsung and Fitbit are Google’s only partners for the new Wear OS platform
It’s quite possible that eventually Google will have more partners for this new platform. But it’s starting out small. With Fitbit, which it owns, and Samsung, which is a clear choice. Given the popularity of Samsung’s wearables platform over the current Wear OS.
The Spotify app will support downloadable content
You’ll be able to download both music and podcasts to the watch when this feature rolls out. Meaning you can connect a pair of Bluetooth earbuds or headphones to the watch and leave the phone at home. That way you can still enjoy everything Spotify offers even if the watch isn’t connected to the internet.
Better performance, better battery life, faster load times for apps
Wear OS has been lacking in both performance and battery life for really its entire lifespan. Since it’s been available to users, these two areas have always fell short. Google knows it.
So the new Wear OS is going to rectify this with better performance and better battery life. At least that’s what Google is promising. The company states that apps will load faster too. So the user experience overall should be more efficient and enjoyable.
More to the point, though, is that you’ll be able to use the watch for more than a day before having to charge it. Whereas right now, you’d be lucky to get to the end of the day.
It’s all about convenience
The new Wear OS makes it super easy to not only get things done but also use your favorite apps. One of the new features is going to be the capability to easily switch back and forth between your most recently used apps.
From anywhere on the watch no less. So no matter what screen you’re on, you can hop right back to maps if that’s the last app you used.
The new Wear OS offers world-class health and fitness features
With Fitbit on board, the new Wear OS is going to be even more centered on health and fitness than ever before. The platform will come with a Fitbit app with features like Active Zone Minutes.
It’ll also include on-wrist celebrations to keep you motivated. And you’ll be able to track your progress throughout the day with just a glance. There are likely more features that will be part of the app as well.
Qualcomm says that Wear 3100/4100 chips can support the new software
Back on June 17 Qualcomm confirmed that smartwatches running on its two newest chipsets could technically support the new software.
Stating that Wear 3100 and Wear 4100 chips are capable of doing so. It also noted that it would be working to ensure that devices on these chips get the update if at all possible.
However, Google is not necessarily as committed to bringing support to older devices. The company has stated that its top priority is user experience. And it doesn’t know that those older chips can live up to the experience that it wants to provide for users.
Some manufacturers, like Fossil, have made official statements saying that none of its existing watches will get the update. Other brands, like Mobvoi, seem to be hinting that at least the TicWatch Pro 3 would be updated. And as the only Wear OS watch running a Snapdragon Wear 4100 chip, it would be a little surprising if the watch didn’t receive the new software.
Samsung’s upcoming smartwatch will be the first device on this new platform
Earlier this morning Samsung showcased some of the upcoming platform that it’s working on with Google. The new platform is currently referred to as the One UI watch experience. This isn’t an official name of the platform though. And while there is still a lot to learn about it, Samsung has shared some details.
The company revealed the new experience during its virtual Mobile World Congress event this morning. Noting that its upcoming smartwatch, for which there is no name yet, will be the first device to run this new software.
This means that even if any of the current Wear OS watches get the update, it won’t be until after Samsung’s new watch is released.
Will any current smartwatches be upgraded to the new software?
There are three current smartwatches which have been confirmed as eligible to receive the upgrade to Wear OS 3. This includes the TicWatch Pro 3 GPS, the TicWatch Pro 3 Cellular/LTE, and the TicWatch E3.
Google also confirms that follow on TicWatch devices, as well as Fossil Group’s upcoming smartwatches later this year will also be eligible for the Wear OS 3 upgrade.
Devices eligible for upgrade will need a factory reset
In addition confirming which watches are eligible for the new software, Google has also stated that any eligible devices will need a factory reset. In the support forum post where it confirmed the Wear OS 3 name, it notes that eligible watches will need revert back to the way they were when users got the devices. Which means factory settings.
Google cites the changes to the software as the reasoning for the factory reset requirement.