Wear OS Overview Updated May 21, 2021

Wear OS

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1,179 'Wear OS' stories

March 2014 - December 2022

Android 11 Wear OS

What is Wear OS?

Wear OS is Google’s wearable platform which is designed to run on watches. It’s based on a modified version of Android, designed by Google, and used on many third-party smartwatches from companies including Fossil, Mobvoi, and more.

The platform is designed to pair with a smartphone – best with Android but compatible with iPhones – and mirror notifications. Developers can also create apps for Wear OS and submit them to the Google Play Store for users to download. Google Assistant is a key feature of the platform, enabling voice controls and smart home integration. Google Fit is also a core part of all watches using Google’s platform, with most supporting a heart rate monitor for fitness tracking.

In recent years, Google’s focus on Wear OS has allowed the platform to function more on its own compared to in years past. LTE watches have been released, and better specifications have also helped fix performance complaints. Pricing on watches varies from model to model, but some models cost under $200, with most of our favorites being around $300.

Google has teased the next “platform update” as coming later in 2021 with some notable changes, including Tiles from third-party apps. You can read more on that here.

In 2021, Google successfully completed its acquisition of Fitbit. When the deal was first announced, Google teased that it would present a chance to “invest more in Wear OS,” but nothing else has come of that announcement yet.

fossil gen 5 carlyle hr
Google Assistant shown on Fossil Gen 5

When did Wear OS release?

Google first announced this platform in 2014 under the name Android Wear.

In 2017, the platform released its “2.0” update, which was an overhaul to the UI and experience with apps being split from the phone and installed independently from the Play Store. In March of the following year, Google officially rebranded Android Wear as Wear OS to better appeal to more customers.

Who uses Wear OS?

You can find Wear OS on many smartwatches, as Google makes the platform available to many OEMs as an alternative to building their own operating system from scratch. Most smartwatches using the platform are powered by Qualcomm chipsets, with the company’s Snapdragon Wear series optimized for smartwatches.

Fossil is the biggest brand in the space, with its own models for sale around $200-$300. The company’s sub-brands including Skagen, Misfit, Diesel, and many others also use the platform for varying price points, but they all generally have the same feature set.

Mobvoi is another notable contender in the space. Google has previously invested in the Chinese company, and Wear OS powers its TicWatch lineup. Notably, Mobvoi’s TicWatch 3 Pro was the first to use the Snapdragon Wear 4100 chip.

Other brands who have been associated with the platform include Casio, Montblanc, Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer, and countless others. Despite the wide variety of brands, though, market share for Google’s platform has long remained minimal and stagnant. In 2020, the smartwatch market saw gains amid the pandemic, but Google’s platform had less share than Fitbit, which was at 6.2% and shrinking at the time.

What’s next for Wear OS?

At Google I/O 2021, the company announced a complete overhaul that’s coming to Wear OS. In the “biggest update ever” for the platform, Google is joining forces with Samsung to create a “unified platform.”

Much of what’s coming with this “Wear 3.0” update remains to be seen, but there are a few things we do know for certain. Google has said that the platform will focus on better battery life as well as better health features, both areas in which previous iterations have lacked. The renewed focus on health will be primarily powered by the newly acquired Fitbit, and based on early looks, it’ll be a near-complete copy from what’s on current Fitbit smartwatches such as Versa 3 and Sense. The new version is based on Android 11.

As for new hardware running the revamped Wear, there’s a lot that’s not known. Fitbit has committed to making “premium” smartwatches on Wear, and Samsung has pretty much confirmed the Galaxy Watch 4 series will be running the update as well.

You can read the latest news about the platform and its apps below.

Wear OS Stories December 1

In recent months, Google has rolled out a Material You redesign and tile for Keep on Wear OS. Around that time, Google Keep looks to have dropped support for older Wear OS 2 devices.

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For the holidays, Wear OS is seeing a trio of new features, including two additional first-party tiles and a more capable Google Keep app.

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Wear OS Stories November 30

In addition to crowning the best overall Android application and game of 2022, Google Play today named the best Wear OS, tablet, and Chromebook apps.

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Wear OS Stories November 28

In the lead up to the Pixel Watch, several first-party apps were overhauled and launched to invigorate Wear OS, and Google is planning to continue that momentum with Gmail and Calendar.

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Wear OS has a lackluster past, but things are finally starting to look up with Wear OS 3. Fossil’s first smartwatch running that platform out of the box is the Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition, a $300 Wear OS 3 smartwatch that’s, well, disappointing.

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Wear OS Stories November 25

One constant between Android Wear to Wear OS 3 is the lack of dedicated Gmail or Google Calendar applications on watches. Amid the flurry of new devices and hardware advancements, it’s increasingly worthwhile for Google to rethink its reliance on rich notifications for key actions.

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Wear OS Stories November 18

The smartwatch market for Android has traditionally been a difficult labyrinth of compromise, but things are finally turning around. If you’re looking for the best smartwatch for an Android phone this holiday season, these are your best picks.

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Wear OS Stories November 16

After several teasers, there’s now an official Deezer app on Wear OS smartwatches.

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Wear OS Stories November 15

If you’re in the market for a Wear OS 3 smartwatch, a new option is right around the corner. Fossil Group has just announced the latest Diesel smartwatch, the Diesel Griffed Gen 6, which launches soon for $350.

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Wear OS Stories November 13

Like Android 13, several Wear OS 3 features have yet to launch as Google looks to continue the Pixel Watch’s momentum. Meanwhile, we’ve spotted other functionality that has yet to be announced for the platform.

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Wear OS Stories November 10

Earlier this week it was revealed that a recent Galaxy Watch 4 update was bricking smartwatches, leaving them entirely useless. Samsung is now rolling out a fresh Galaxy Watch 4 update, seemingly to fix the problem, but some users are still running into issues.

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Wear OS Stories November 8

What to do if your Galaxy Watch 4 won’t turn on

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 series brings a ton of great features and excellent battery life, but it’s susceptible to bugs and problems just like everything else. One issue that some may face is a Galaxy Watch 4 that just won’t turn on. What should you do?

How to take a screenshot on your Fossil Wear OS 3 watch

Even on Wear OS, every watch out there has a different method of taking screenshots. With the Fossil Wear OS lineup, you need to use a proprietary app. This guide will take you through grabbing a screenshot on Fossil Wear OS devices.

Wear OS Stories November 7

The watch faces Google made for the Pixel Watch are rather nice, but existing Wear OS owners might just use their existing favorites. In doing so, some have found that watch faces not using the latest development practices don’t fully support the Pixel Watch’s always-on display (AOD). 

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Wear OS Stories November 4

The Pixel Watch was most people’s first introduction — $1,300 wearable aside —  to “stock” Wear OS 3, with the Fossil Gen 6 update rolling out shortly after. Now that more people have had time to use it, what do you think about Wear OS 3’s core UI and navigation? 

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Wear OS Stories November 3

Wear OS has long been a platform for the many, not just one or two smartwatch models. It provides a ton of choice for customers, and with Wear OS 3, it’s also giving brands an easier path to crafting what their smartwatch experience looks like. The Montblanc Summit 3 is one of the first Wear OS 3 watches, and it’s an excellent entry but one that’s certainly not for most folks.

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Wear OS Stories November 1

Google Maps update on Wear OS breaks home & work shortcuts on Pixel Watch, Galaxy Watch

If you have a Wear OS 3 smartwatch, including the Google Pixel Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, a recent update to Google Maps appears to have broken the navigation shortcuts for home and work locations.

Wear OS Stories October 26

As new hardware continues to bolster the Wear OS ecosystem, Peloton has just launched an official Wear OS app.

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Wear OS Stories October 25

Montblanc launches $1,600 Naruto-edition of the Summit 3 with Wear OS 3

Wear OS 3 is available on a limited number of smartwatches well over a year after its debut, and now they’re finally starting to arrive at a steady pace. This week, Montblanc has announced another Wear OS 3 smartwatch with its $1,600 Summit 3 x Naruto collaboration.

Google is pushing for more apps and better quality on Wear OS following the launch of the Pixel Watch and expansion of Wear OS 3, and it seems the company is also applying that to some of its own apps. Apparently, Google News is getting a new Wear OS app.

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Wear OS Stories October 24

At the Android Dev Summit, Google announced the latest improvements to Jetpack Compose including stable Material You (Material Design 3) components, Android TV apps, and a lot more.

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Wear OS Stories October 23

Like on phones, many Wear OS features are delivered via Google Play services, and the latest version reveals what backups on watches will cover, as well as more features for Google Wallet.

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Wear OS Stories October 21

Fans of Android modding rejoice, it’s been discovered that the Pixel Watch bootloader can be unlocked, but you’ll need a special cable or very steady hands.

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Wear OS Stories October 17

Wear OS app reaches 50 million Play Store downloads after Pixel Watch ditches it

The official “Wear OS” app has reached a new downloads milestone in the Play Store just as the Pixel Watch and other newer smartwatches make it irrelevant.

Wear OS 3 is finally heading to users, as the platform’s reboot is now rolling out to Fossil Gen 6 smartwatches. Unfortunately, the update also removes Google Fit from Fossil’s smartwatches.

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As promised with the announcement of the “Wellness Edition” last week, Fossil is beginning to roll out the Wear OS 3 update to its Gen 6 watches today. 

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Wear OS Stories October 14

The Pixel Watch is finally here, and it’s a polarizing release in more ways than one. For some users, the biggest issue seems to be with battery life, especially as the always-on display on Google’s smartwatch will quickly drain the battery. Do you use the always-on display?

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Wear OS Stories October 13

Wear OS 3 first launched in mid-2021 on Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 series, and now, well over a year later, the platform is finally starting to expand to older hardware. Fossil has confirmed that its Wear OS 3 upgrade is just around the corner, and launched its very first smartwatch running the platform in its new Gen 6 “Wellness” Edition.

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Wear OS Stories October 12

The Google Pixel Watch has officially arrived, and retail units are starting to arrive today for early buyers. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a Pixel Watch today, you’ll have a software update waiting out of the box.

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Pixel Watch gets ‘Wear OS System UI’ app on Google Play Store

Google said it’s aiming for yearly Wear OS updates, but many experiences on its wearables are updated via the Play Store. The latest example of that is “Wear OS System UI” on the Pixel Watch.

Wear OS Stories October 11

The first-party Pixel Watch is the next biggest moment for Wear OS after last year’s Samsung partnership. The team responsible provided an update today on the state of the platform.

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Wear OS Stories October 9

As part of the Pixel Watch rollout, Google has detailed that the Wear OS device will get “at least” three years of updates.

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Wear OS Stories October 8

The Pixel Watch has a 294 mAh (typical) battery that’s officially rated for “up to 24 hours,” with Google employing a number of software features to save battery life.

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Wear OS Stories October 6

The Pixel Watch is Google’s very first smartwatch, but it leverages the history of the Wear OS platform and its near-decade of apps and watch faces. But what’s new? Here’s every watch face on the Pixel Watch, and all of Google’s pre-loaded Wear OS apps.

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Wear OS Stories October 5

Fitbit will be a highlight of the Pixel Watch experience and we now have a closer look at the new Wear OS app. 

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The latest sign that Google’s investment in the Pixel Watch will benefit the entire ecosystem is a new Weather app for all Wear OS 3+ watches.

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Google’s Wear OS revival comes to a head with the launch of the company’s own Pixel Watch, and with the boost that’s come from the Galaxy Watch’s success, Wear OS has seen much more interest when it comes to apps. Today, Google has released a redesigned version of its Phone app for Wear OS.

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Wear OS Stories September 29

As telegraphed by September’s Google Play system update, the Wear OS Play Store is beginning to get its new redesign.

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Wear OS Stories September 26

Google Wallet on your smartwatch: Which watches have tap-to-pay?

One of the biggest draws to owning a smartwatch is the ability to make touchless payments anywhere that allows it. So what Wear OS watches utilize Google Wallet and touchless payments? Here’s our up-to-date list of smartwatches that can use Google Wallet.

Wear OS Stories September 23

Wear OS watches regain double-click shortcut for Google Wallet

When Google Wallet replaced Google Pay on Wear OS, some watches lost the ability to hit a predefined button twice to initiate tap-to-pay. Google has now fixed this issue and brought back the shortcut.

To better highlight that the Play Store is increasingly home to more than just phone apps, Google is adding a prominent “Other devices” section for watch, televisions, and car apps.

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Wear OS Stories September 14

Galaxy Watch 5 update brings ‘performance improvements’ to cellular models

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 has only been on the market for a few weeks, but it’s already getting its second update which brings “performance improvements.”

Wear OS Stories September 13

With the Sense 2 and Versa 4, Fitbit debuted a new UI for its smartwatches that’s nearly identical to stock Wear OS 3 and, therefore, the Pixel Watch. 

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Wear OS Stories September 12

Google’s Wear OS was a forgotten platform in the greater smartwatch market when looking at what people were actually buying, but things are quickly turning around. On Samsung’s back, Wear OS continues to grow, as Q2 2022 saw another big jump from the Galaxy Watch 4.

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Wear OS Stories September 9

Following Camera for Wear OS last month, Google Keep is rolling out a Material You redesign that modernizes the app and joins its just-added Tile for faster note-taking.

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After teasing its arrival, SoundCloud is now available on Wear OS, but only in a beta for now.

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Wear OS Stories September 8

Ahead of its own Pixel Watch hitting the market, Google has today announced the Bitmoji for Wear OS watch face which is available now for Wear OS smartwatches.

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Wear OS Stories September 4

Two big updates are headed out to Galaxy devices starting this week, as Samsung has just announced Android 12L for its older foldable smartphones, as well as Wear OS 3.5 for the Galaxy Watch 4 series.

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