After a short stint using a forked Android build as well as Google’s own Android Wear platform, Samsung settled on its Tizen platform for smartwatches, and it’s proven very successful. That’s why rumors of the company going back to Android are so odd, and now it’s only getting more confusing. New evidence points to a Samsung Galaxy Watch running Wear OS with the codename “Merlot.”

Recapping the situation so far, a well-known and fairly reliable Samsung tipster last week reported that an upcoming Galaxy Watch would be switching to Android. Wear OS in particular wasn’t specified, but it was assumed by many, especially as rumors from 2018 pointed to that possibility.

Now, ivan_meler has discovered some further evidence. Speaking to XDA, he found references in the kernel source code for Samsung’s Exynos-powered Galaxy S20 to a new device with the codename “Merlot.” Right alongside that codename is “Wear OS,” strongly implying a wearable running Google’s operating system. Apparently, the watch would use a Broadcom BCM43013 Bluetooth/WiFi chip, similar to what’s found in the Galaxy Watch 3.

It’s important to take this with a grain of salt, though. Currently, there are no other known references to “Merlot” in Samsung’s source code, and the codename hasn’t surfaced anywhere else, either. Notably, we couldn’t find any references to the codename in the Wear OS app either.

Samsung switching from its in-house Tizen, which has proved successful, to Google’s Wear OS, which struggles to gain any popularity, on the Galaxy Watch series would certainly be an odd move. Samsung’s platform may be full of security holes and lack the app/watchface support that Wear OS brings to the table, but it’s been critically acclaimed for its usability, health features, and more over the past few years.

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Ben Schoon

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