Google finally gave its new unified smartwatch platform a name – and it’s a no-brainer: Wear OS 3. This little detail was part of what could be a more controversial body of information on Wear smartwatches. Current OS that will be updated, when these updates will come, and what those updates will entail. On all three fronts, this is not very good news.
Google says updates to Wear OS 3 will begin rolling out to a limited set of smartwatches in the “second half of 2022”. That’s quite a long way off, especially since we expect the first Wear OS 3 watches to be announced next month at Samsung’s Unpacked event.
Currently, the list of watches that could benefit from the update “includes Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 GPS, TicWatch Pro 3 Cellular / LTE, TicWatch E3 and TicWatch devices, as well as the new generation of devices from Fossil. Group launched later this year, ”according to the Google publication.
That leaves a lot of Wear OS watches out, including everything related to Fossil and its associated brands. And this list also leaves out all Samsung watches based on Tizen. They are currently the best option for most Android users, but now they appear to officially have an expiration date.
There’s no other way to put it: For Android users, it’s not a good idea to buy a smartwatch right now. Everything available today will not be updated or receive an update until the end of 2022. This is the clearest and most direct example of the Osborne effect in recent memory.
And to be even more direct, it might not be a good idea to buy watches that are on this list, as there are other complications with this update. Google says that “in some limited cases user experience may be affected” but declined to develop further at this time. It could mean a lot of things, but a common experience with any computer is that newer operating systems feel sluggish on older hardware.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson promised that Google would “provide more details ahead of the update so that users can make an informed decision.”
Additionally, upgrading to Wear OS 3 will require a full factory reset, erasing any settings and data you might have on the watch. Most of this data should be backed up to your phone, as Wear OS apps are usually not fully self-contained on the watch, but there’s always a chance that’s a problem. And you probably won’t be able to just hit a restore button after updating to restore your old watch settings.
Google at least recognizes that many watch owners won’t want to go through all of this hassle, so it offers a way to decline the update while still receiving security fixes. The company promises to continue supporting the current version of Wear OS with updates and will offer security updates for “two years from the device’s launch.”
The blog post is likely meant to weed out the bad news earlier so that decks are cleaned up for Samsung’s Galaxy smartwatch announcements – not to mention rumors of a Google Pixel Watch that could also be behind the scenes.
After so many years of languishing, the next version of Wear OS will have a lot to prove. Although it was announced last May during Google’s I / O, we still don’t have a full idea of how it actually works. We know it takes some stuff from Samsung’s Tizen platform – like watch faces – but it’s generally more Wear OS than Tizen.
What we’ve seen from Wear OS 3 so far is promising. Google says it will be faster than current smartwatches while still providing longer battery life. It should also offer a standalone Google Maps app, offline Spotify music, and built-in Fitbit activity tracking.
All of this means that if you are an Android user who wants a smartwatch, the best option you have right now is to just wait for the new Wear OS 3 watches to launch and review.