Wear OS Overview Updated May 21, 2021

Wear OS

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1,107 'Wear OS' stories

March 2014 - July 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 July 1

Following two releases in June, One UI Watch 4.5 beta 3 is now available to address several Galaxy Watch 4 bugs, while a more official — and presumably final — look at Samsung’s Wear OS 3.5 update has emerged. 

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Wear OS Stories June 30

Wear OS 3 will start rolling out to existing Snapdragon Wear 4100+ devices in the “mid to second half of 2022,” and we’ve now learned that Fossil is building a companion app for its watches.

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The Fossil Gen 6 has a new “Venture Edition” available for purchase which updates the design and included band on the Wear OS smartwatch.

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Wear OS Stories June 28

Google’s Wear OS platform has supported iOS from the beginning, but future support of Apple’s platform was in question with the debut of Wear OS 3. Now, we have an answer.

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Wear OS Stories June 25

Fast Pair started as Google’s way to quickly connect Bluetooth headphones to Android phones and will soon do the same on Chrome OS. Google alluded today that Fast Pair is coming to Wear OS in what could be preparation for the Pixel Watch and Pixel Buds Pro.

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Wear OS Stories June 22

Google unveiled Wear OS 3 over a year ago at this point, but it’s only been available on a single product in the time since. Now, ahead of the debut of Google’s own Pixel Watch, Wear OS 3 is making its way to a Qualcomm-powered smartwatch in the Montblanc Summit 3.

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Wear OS Stories June 20

Galaxy Watch 4 gets its second One UI Watch 4.5 beta update

Samsung opened up the very first beta program for its Galaxy Watch 4 series earlier this month, and now we’re already getting another patch. The second beta update for One UI Watch 4.5 is already headed to Galaxy Watch 4 owners.

Wear OS Stories June 6

Ahead of a device’s release, companies need to get approval from regulatory agencies like the FCC in the United States, as well as organizations like the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). In the last few months, new devices from Fossil have arrived at both of these groups, sparking rumors of Fossil’s Gen 7 Wear OS watches. However, that’s not what these new watches are set to be.

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Wear OS Stories June 3

Continuing the trend of new and redesigned apps for Wear OS 3 in the past year, Google has released Contacts to the Play Store with a revamped look.

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Wear OS Stories June 2

Galaxy Watch 4 owners can now install Samsung’s newest One UI Watch beta for the smartwatch, but only if they’ve signed up previously. This new beta showcases the next Wear OS generation for Samsung’s wearable and might have some cool new improvements up its sleeve, but Samsung has already closed off sign-ups for the beta program.

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Following yesterday’s availability of the Galaxy Watch 4 beta app, Samsung has released the OTA and changelog for One Ul Watch 4.5 to testers.

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Wear OS Stories June 1

A day ahead of the big launch, Samsung is rolling out the app needed for the Galaxy Watch 4 beta program, but the final step has yet to surface.

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Wear OS Stories May 31

Samsung’s Wear OS switch boosts market share to over 10%, as Fitbit shrinks

According to the latest data on wearables, Samsung’s market share has grown significantly since switching the Galaxy watch series to Wear OS. Meanwhile, Fitbit has seen a dip since being acquired by Google.

Wear OS Stories May 30

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 got a huge boost earlier this month as Google Assistant finally arrived, but it seems that has caused some problems. Since Assistant hit the Galaxy Watch 4, users have noticed problems with battery drain and even their watch unpairing itself.

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Wear OS Stories May 25

Just a day after Samsung announced the program, the first beta program for the Wear OS–based Galaxy Watch 4 is already showing up in the Samsung Members app – but with a couple of caveats.

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Wear OS Stories May 24

The delayed launch of the Google Assistant for Galaxy Watch 4 has been highly anticipated so we’ve gone hands-on to find out if it’s a massive step up.

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Software is one of the best parts of the Galaxy Watch 4, with a messy but very functional mix of Samsung and Google’s strengths. Now, Samsung is looking at the next step for its Wear OS skin, “One UI Watch,” with a beta coming to the Galaxy Watch 4 in June.

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Wear OS Stories May 23

Galaxy Watch 4 owners have been waiting for Google Assistant since Samsung launched the wearable with just Bixby last year, and support is now officially launching today.

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Wear OS Stories May 19

In addition to a new Recently Played tile, YouTube Music for Wear OS will soon let you stream songs over data/cellular instead of having to download songs, albums, or playlists ahead of time. 

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Wear OS Stories May 17

Last week, a handful of Google apps opened preview programs, but new versions have yet to emerge. The Play Store now says that the Wear OS companion app is getting a beta.

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After running on its own Tizen operating system for the better part of a decade for smartwatches, Samsung finally embraced Google’s Wear OS last year. However, a clever developer has been able to install Wear OS on the Gear S3, Samsung’s 2016 smartwatch.

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Wear OS Stories May 13

As we previously spotted, YouTube Music’s ‘Recently Played’ Wear OS tile is now available to let you quickly start listening to a previous album/song on your watch.

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Wear OS Stories May 12

Todoist is modernizing its Wear OS app with upcoming redesign

Since Wear OS 3 last year, more developers have released apps for the wearable platform. At I/O 2022, Google teased that Todoist is redesigning its Wear OS app to be more modern.

Google today previewed its first smartwatch ahead of a fall launch alongside the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. In doing so, Google made note of how the Pixel Watch “requires an Android 8.0 or newer phone,” while foregoing any mention of iPhone support.

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Wear OS Stories May 11

Google I/O is the tech giant’s annual chance to boast its wins, and also provide meaningful updates on where its various products stand. Below, we’ve collected some of the key numbers and metrics from Google I/O 2022.

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Google neglected Wear OS for years, but it seems the company is finally ready to take things seriously. Alongside the reveal of the Pixel Watch earlier today, the company also confirmed that, finally, Wear OS is getting a Google Home app.

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With its one-year anniversary approaching, the Galaxy Watch 4 is finally getting an actual timeline for one of its most anticipated features. Google Assistant is officially getting a release date on the Galaxy Watch 4 this summer.

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Personal safety is a high priority among many people, and in places where emergencies can happen at a moment’s notice, having safety features on Android is high on the list. At Google I/O 2022, Google announced that the Android Earthquake Detection System is expanding further as well as Emergency SOS on Wear devices.

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Wear OS Stories April 30

We’re finally coming up on the release of a Google-branded smartwatch, with the tsunami of leaks to prove it. It’s been years that we’ve been waiting for this, but 2022 isn’t the first time Google tried to release a smartwatch. Years ago, Google planned to release what we now know as the LG Watch Style and Watch Sport as its first Wear OS “flagships,” as the “Pixel Watch.”

Thank goodness that didn’t work out.

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Wear OS Stories April 22

With the launch of the first Made by Google smartwatch seemingly around the corner, the device now has a more definite name thanks to a new trademark for “Pixel Watch.”

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Wear OS Stories April 15

Mobvoi’s TicWatch smartwatches, the Wear OS models, are getting a new batch of official watch faces. Here’s how to get them on your device.

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The first Google-branded smartwatch is finally on its way, but leaks have been few and far between. Today, a very minor Pixel Watch leak has our attention, primarily because it comes with the detail of running Wear OS “3.1,” which is out-of-date.

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Wear OS Stories April 8

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 series has proved to be a hit, but the battery life was one of the least satisfying parts of the lineup. Apparently, that’s something Samsung is preparing to solve with the “Galaxy Watch 5 Pro,” which would have a 60% larger battery.

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Wear OS Stories April 7

TAG Heuer’s latest Wear OS smartwatch runs $2,650 and comes with free golf balls

The Wear OS market is a bit quiet right now as we sit in limbo before the expansion of Wear OS 3, but some long-time partners still have releases. Luxury brand TAG Heuer has just announced a new Wear OS smartwatch, a variant of its Connected Calibre E4 for golfers that even includes a few golf balls with your purchase.

Wear OS Stories March 18

As of today, we’ve primarily seen Wear OS 3 in the context of Samsung’s One UI on the Galaxy Watch 4. New screenshots of Wear OS 3 provide another sneak peek at what could be considered the stock Google experience. 

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Wear OS Stories March 15

The launch of the Skagen Falster Gen 6 earlier this year brought with it the reveal of a partnership between Amazon and Fossil that would bring Alexa to select Wear OS smartwatches. Now, a few months later, that feature is finally going live.

Update 3/15: Fossil has officially announced this functionality, offering a bit more context from our original coverage last week. Read on for more details.

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Wear OS Stories March 10

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is one the best smartwatches you can buy today, in part because of its excellent health and fitness tracking tools. According to a new report, the Galaxy Watch 5 will add a skin thermometer to the package.

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Wear OS Stories February 22

Qualcomm’s current flagship chip for wearables pales in comparison to what Samsung offers, but that could soon change. A new report today revealed details about the Snapdragon Wear 5100 and 5100+ that Qualcomm previously telegraphed was coming.

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The next generation of Wear OS is around the corner, with Google slowly progressing on Wear OS 3 through developer previews. This week, the company has quietly released another emulator image, which shows some progress since the last time we dove in.

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Wear OS Stories February 18

Google Pay makes it really easy to handle payments in stores that accept NFC, and Wear OS has long supported the ability to make these payments. With Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4, it’s finally possible to install Google Pay, but some owners have recently been seeing errors including that Google Pay “couldn’t finish setup.”

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Wear OS Stories February 14

These smartwatches are confirmed to be compatible with Wear OS 3 [Updated]

Google has so far confirmed that only a handful of current and upcoming smartwatches will be upgradeable to Wear OS 3 later this year.

Update: Tag Heuer has unveiled a new smartwatch set to get a Wear OS 3 upgrade.

Wear OS Stories February 12

How to check for updates on the Galaxy Watch 4

Every now and again, the Galaxy Watch 4 gets major updates to improve the already capable Wear OS smartwatch. Of course, in order for you to take advantage of improvements to your Galaxy Watch, you need to ensure the device gets updated. This guide will take you through exactly how to check for updates on your Galaxy Watch.

Latest Galaxy Watch 4 update seems to break some older Wear OS watch faces

The Wear OS-based Galaxy Watch 4 picked up a new update earlier this week with new fitness features and some other tweaks, but it also seems to have broken with some third-party watch faces.

Wear OS Stories February 11

The Galaxy Watch 4 is a powerful smartwatch, there is no doubt about it. In fact, it may be the best of the bundle right now. To add to that, the latest Wear OS update adds a really nice new quality-of-life feature to its notification system on the Galaxy Watch 4 for Google Messages and Slack.

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Wear OS Stories February 10

Earlier this week Samsung revealed a new update coming to the Galaxy Watch 4 series that would deliver sleep coaching, custom interval training, and more features. Now, that major February update for the Galaxy Watch 4 is rolling out widely, and it comes with a more detailed changelog that reveals the ability to set the orientation for the left or right wrist.

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Now on its fourth-generation of Wear OS watches, Tag Heuer today announced the Connected Calibre E4. It features modern specs in line with other non-Samsung wearables and comes in two sizes.

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Surrounding its Galaxy S22 unveil yesterday, Samsung also announced a new update policy that leads the Android market. As it turns out, that policy will also extend to the Galaxy Watch 4, which will be getting Wear OS updates for the next four years.

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Wear OS Stories February 8

Following Samsung’s tease yesterday afternoon, Google today provided more details on the new Assistant experience coming to Wear OS, including its new design.

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