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In the second half of next year, a handful of existing smartwatches that run Google’s operating system will get updated to Wear OS 3 based on Android 11. Ahead of that, Google has rolled out a new “System updates” screen for Wear OS.

To date, much of Wear OS has been updated through apps from the Play Store or Google Play services. Version 21.42.18 of the latter introduces a new “System updates” UI (Settings app > System > About). 

It starts with a tiny smartwatch icon and user-friendly “Your watch is up to date” status. That message remains the same, though the blue checkmark is gone, and is now followed by “Android version” and “Android security update.”

The security patch level was previously found at the very bottom of the “Versions” list, while the actual Android release was something that Google in 2018 decided to obscure with a “System version” scheme that made use of a letter, e.g. “H.” Of course, Google never moved on from “Hematite” – a mineral form of iron oxide.

This reappearance of the actual Android release number is curious and comes as some wearables are set to get Wear OS 3/Android 11 in 2022. Google could be laying the groundwork with this change, which looks to be widely rolled out in recent days.

Users are undoubtedly more familiar with “Android” followed by a number even if it’s already one version behind phones. That said, “Wear OS 3” led most to assume that Google was rallying around that branding/versioning.

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com