Google began the process of rolling out Android Wear 2.0 to a plethora of smartwatches all the way back in February. This latest update brings many enhancements and refinements, but most notable are its revamped UI, on-watch Play Store, and watch face complications. If you’re hoping try out the new features of Android Wear’s latest but haven’t received the OTA update yet, you can try to manually install it on some watches with ADB tools…
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Note: If your device can’t connect to a computer via direct USB connection, this guide isn’t for you. For instance, the Moto 360, Fossil watches, and some others can’t connect to a computer via USB (unless you want to do some serious hardware modifications). You can debug over Bluetooth on a Moto 360, but that won’t work when your device is in recovery.
Install ADB Tools
If you haven’t yet, the first step is to head over to our ADB Tools installation guide to install ADB on your computer. In short, you need to head over to Google’s website and download the SDK Platform Tools for the OS your computer runs.
Reveal Developer Options & Enable ADB Debugging
Since you plan to tinker with your Android Wear device, you need to reveal the developer options to enable ADB debugging. Enabling ADB debugging allows you to run commands from your command line which communicate with your Android Wear device much like you may have done with your Android phone or tablet.
If you’ve enabled developer options on your phone or tablet, enabling them on your Android Wear will seem familiar. Go to your watch’s settings either by holding the power button or by tapping on the home screen and scrolling to the bottom of the command list until you find settings.
In the settings menu, scroll to the bottom and select “About”. Find the build number and tap it 7 times or until the “You are now a developer!” toast appears. Now swipe to the right to go back to the settings. There, you’ll see a new section called “Developer options.” That’s where you’ll find the ADB debugging option. Enable ADB debugging from this screen, and plug the device into your computer.
Connect Android Wear to your Computer
If your Android Wear watch can connect to a computer via USB and you’re using a Linux or macOS computer, you simply need to plug in your device. Once your device is connected, a notification will appear on your watch asking you to give your computer permission to use ADB debugging. Unlock your companion Android phone or tablet and check “Always allow from this computer” and select OK to allow ADB debugging between your watch and computer.
If you’re on Windows, however, things can be a bit more complicated. You need to install the drivers for Android Wear. Installing the device drivers for Android Wear can be a bit tricky, and for some devices it’s not currently possible. This Stack Overflow post shows you all that you need to do to get it working.
If your Android Wear can’t be connected to a computer via a USB connection, you probably missed the disclaimer above. Debugging over Bluetooth won’t work when the device is in recovery, so you’re out of luck — you’ll just have to wait until your device received the update over-the-air.
Download the Android Wear 2.0 OTA
The next step in updating to Android Wear 2.0 using OTA files is to actually download the proper OTA file for your device. The list below are download links straight from Google (hat tip to /r/AndroidWear for putting these together):
Note: If there is more than one download option, that means that there is more than one build of Android Lollipop or KitKat available for your device, and you need to download the one that correlates. Also, if you’re stumbling upon this guide looking to upgrade to a different version of Android Wear, just do a quick Google search for the latest OTA images. The rest of the steps in this guide should still apply.
Some watches that are going to get the Android Wear 2.0 update unfortunately can’t be updated via ADB. Currently, these include Motorola devices (Moto 360 2nd gen., Moto 360 Sport), Fossil devices (Fossil Q Wander, Q Marshal, Q Founder), Casio watches (Casio Smart Outdoor, Pro Trek), and Michael Kors devices. Keep reading for the full list.
LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE: Coming soon.
LG Watch Urbane: Download via Google
LG G Watch R: Download via Google
Moto 360 2nd gen: Incompatible with ADB sideload.
Moto 360 Sport: Incompatible with ADB sideload.
Moto 360 Womens: Incompatible with ADB sideload.
Fossil Q Wander: Incompatible with ADB sideload.
Fossil Q Marshal: Incompatible with ADB sideload.
Fossil Q Founder: Incompatible with ADB sideload.
Polar M600: Coming soon.
ASUS ZenWatch 2 (Small): Coming soon.
ASUS ZenWatch 2 (Large): Coming soon.
ASUS ZenWatch 3: Coming soon.
Huawei Watch: Coming soon.
Huawei Watch Ladies: Coming soon.
Tag Heuer Connected: Coming soon.
Casio Smart Outdoor Watch: Incompatible with ADB sideload.
Casio Pro Trek Smart: Incompatible with ADB sideload.
Nixon Mission: Download via Google.
Michael Kors Access: Incompatible with ADB sideload.
New Balance RunIQ: Download via Google.
Prepare your Device
Once you have the OTA zip downloaded, reboot your watch into its recovery. To do this, run the command “adb reboot bootloader” and navigate to the recovery menu. Alternatively, you can try “adb reboot recovery”. Once you see the green Android with the red warning symbol, tap the screen. A menu will appear on the screen from which you can select an item by swiping up or down on the touchscreen. Swipe right when you’ve highlighted “apply update from ADB.”
Install the OTA
Now that your watch is in sideload mode, type “adb sideload” into your command prompt (don’t run it just yet!) and drag the OTA zip onto the terminal. This will automatically paste the OTA file’s location in your file directory. Run the command and you should see your device start to update.
Once the update is finished your device should automatically reboot. Be sure to check the About section of the settings to see that the update was applied effectively. You can now experience all of the new features the latest version of Android Wear has to offer, without having to wait for the update to hit your device.