Google's revamped Wear OS won't arrive on many existing smartwatches


Posts: 917   +12
Staff member
In brief: Wear OS 3 is the most promising development around smartwatches for Android users, but Google says the new experience won't be arriving to many existing models. If you're excited about the next Wear OS, this may be the worst time to buy a new watch, as even qualifying models won't receive the upgrade until the second half of 2022.

Google revealed earlier this year it was partnering with Samsung to combine Wear OS and Tizen to create a common platform that would leverage the strengths of both in competing with the Apple Watch.

The new platform is simply called "Wear OS 3," and some of the touted improvements include faster app loading times, better battery life, offline Spotify music, Fitbit activity tracking, a standalone Maps app, and an improvements for developers, who will only need to develop apps, custom UI layers, and watch faces for a single platform. That is, if Google's new Wear OS experiment is able to draw enough people in.

We already know that Samsung will be the first to launch a smartwatch running Wear OS 3 in the Galaxy Watch 4, which is expected to make an appearance next month at the Galaxy Unpacked event. The company said this would be its first wearable to come with a new "One UI" experience, and is expected to be powered by a new, Exynos W920 chipset.

As exciting as that may be, one of the big promises with Wear OS 3 was that it would come to existing smartwatches. Today, Google explained that Wear OS 3 will land on a limited number of models in the second half of 2022, which is disappointing but not completely unexpected. There's only a handful of devices that are currently on sale that will receive the upgrade, while all watches equipped with a Snapdragon Wear 3100 or older chip will be left behind.

Google appears to believe the best experience requires the power of Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 4100 and 4100+, which has only been available for little more than a year. Owners of Samsung's existing smartwatches are also out of luck, and buying a new watch at this point may not be the best idea.

So far, the only devices confirmed to receive an upgrade to Wear OS 3 are Mobvoi's TicWatch Pro 3 Cellular/LTE, TicWatch Pro 3 GPS, and TicWatch E3. Upcoming Mobvoi and Fossil smartwatches won't come with Wear OS 3 out of the box, but owners will be able to upgrade at a later time. However, Google did warn that not all new features will be available on these watches while performance may suffer a small hit as a result of the upgrade.

The company also explains that people who opt to receive Wear OS 3 on eligible devices will have to perform a factory reset. As for Wear OS 2 users, and people who don't want to upgrade, they'll be treated to a new Play Store experience, and will receive security updates for at least two years after the device launch.

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Tom Yum

Posts: 114   +250
Out of interest (only because I haven't seen it) where did Google indicate that Wear OS 3 would be coming to existing devices? To me it was pretty clear Wear OS 3 was a major step change for Wear OS to take advantage of the platform finally having access to semi-modern SoC's like the W920 and not Qualcomms antique phone-it-in designs (W1100, W1200, W3100). The only article I could find came from comments Qualcomm made that Wear OS 3 could run on W3100/4100 (could != runs well), to which Google responded that user experience was their focus (I.e, it ain't running on Qualcomm's ancient smartwatch platforms).

I'm not defending Google, but Qualcomm basically killed the platform from the start by phoning in a solution that was then ignored for 4 years. Google should have put more pressure on Qualcomm to keep updating it, but the fact Google has partnered with Samsung now is telling.


Posts: 883   +1,678
I will say, they have not been that clear as to which devices would get it and which ones wouldnt.

I think that they are keeping some info behind so to do not tip qualcomm, but I think that between the AMD powered Exynos and who knows what else they have for WhiteChapel and wearable, Samsung might have some serious SOC's to replace Qualcomm from Android.

But take all that with a gigantic bag of salt.


Posts: 134   +105
Out of interest (only because I haven't seen it) where did Google indicate that Wear OS 3 would be coming to existing devices? T
They didn't. A lot of owners of current gen watches assumed they would be getting the update. It would likely be a significant undertaking to get the new OS to work with all of these different watch's low level board support packages.

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 824   +730
Might look into the next Samsung Smartwatch series when they arrive. Previous gen SoC's for wearables in Android suck anyway, Wear 4 won't help that.


Posts: 6   +1
Wear OS is absolute rubbish. Total crap. I switched to Samsung Galaxy watches and Tizen is way better. Now Samsung are regressing back to watch OS I certainly won't be buying it. Bad move Samsung. They'll probably bundle it free with S22 to try and shift them.


Posts: 65   +28
To me, if you want a smart watch, something that's coming out at the end of next year is vaporware. They might decide to not ship to those watches at all, they might get distracted and not ship it all (not real likely, but..), the features may completely change.

This is true for PCs, phones, etc., as well -- I would not get one based on what they promise it'll do in the future with software updates, get it based on what it does now, if it has the features you want go for it, if not, don't.