Wear OS 3 isn’t technically finished rolling out just yet, but Google isn’t waiting to announce Wear OS 4. The new operating system aims to improve battery life and introduce cloud backups to the platform.
It makes sense that Wear OS is getting some love now that the Pixel Watch is here. The jump to Wear OS 4 is a bit surprising, though. Sure, it’s been two years since Google announced that the oft-neglected Wear OS platform was getting a total overhaul via a partnership with Samsung. But the transition was slow and Wear OS 3 didn’t really take off until the second half of 2022.
The good news is that Wear OS still has time to get its ducks in a row. While the Wear OS 4 developer preview and emulator launches today, it won’t be available to consumers until “later this year.” As mentioned earlier, Wear OS 4 extends battery life and, Finally, give android users the ability to backup and restore their watches without having to do a factory reset. (Yes it is 2023, but this is not yet possible for Wear OS watches.) The next-generation operating system will also offer new and improved accessibility features, such as text-to-speech.
Better battery and backups would go a long way in solving two of Wear OS 3’s biggest problems. In our testing, the Pixel Watch’s battery barely lasted a full day. Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 and 5 were also mediocre, although battery life has admittedly improved since launch. Still, it’s a stretch to say any Wear OS 3 watch can handle several days of battery life right now. Meanwhile, the lack of cloud backups has been a problem for years.
Samsung and Google are also teaming up to create Watch Face Format, making it easier for developers to create watchfaces for the platform. The big plus seems to be that watchfaces built this way will be more power efficient for Wear OS 4.
On the app front, Google continues its efforts to bolster the Play Store And add more Google services to the wrist. For starters, Wear OS will get support for both Gmail and Google Calendar. For Gmail, that means you can respond to emails from your wrist. Calendar allows users to view their schedules, view and comment on events, and update task statuses.
Wear OS also gets improved smart home integration within the Home app. That includes improved device controls, such as adjusting lighting and controlling media, as well as animated previews of camera notifications. Users can also access favorites in the mobile app right from the wrist.
As far as third-party apps go, the big news is that WhatsApp is launching its very first smartwatch app in the “coming weeks”. (And yes, that includes answering WhatsApp calls.) Spotify will also release three new Tiles, or widgets, aimed at podcasts, your heavy rotation, and Spotify DJ. Peloton, which released a Wear OS app last year, will also add a workout streak tile.
It makes sense that Google wants to continue its wearable momentum. 2022 was a turning point year for Wear OS 3. Not only did Google finally release the Pixel Watch, but Samsung also came out with its Galaxy Watch 5 series, Montblanc released the Summit 3, and Fossil started rolling out upgrades to its Wear OS 2 watches. Qualcomm also announced a new, more powerful chipset with the Snapdragon W5 Plus platform.
That said, there are still many questions to be answered in the coming months. But perhaps the most pressing question is whether Google can handle it this transition smoother than moving to Wear OS 3.
The most pressing question is whether Google can handle it this transition smoother than moving to Wear OS 3
For starters, it’s unclear what hardware can run or upgrade to Wear OS 4. When Google and Samsung announced the move to Wear OS 3, only watches with Samsung’s own chipset or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform were eligible for an upgrade. Meanwhile, Mobvoi users are still waiting to find out when the new TicWatch with the W5 Plus and Wear OS 3 will arrive – along with Wear OS 3 upgrades for previous TicWatches. To further complicate matters, third-party makers such as Fossil and Montblanc are waiting for compatibility with Google Assistant their Also wear OS 3 watches.
It’s likely we’ll get more details in the coming weeks and months. For now, we hope Wear OS 4 helps the platform become less fragmented, not more.