Wear OS 3.0: all the new features and which devices will run the new OS

Everything we know so far about Google's big smartwatch software update
Wear OS 3.0 update guide
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Google and Samsung have joined forces for a huge update for Wear OS – with Fitbit handling a new health and fitness experience for the platform. It's also set to rename the platform, ditching the OS and just calling it Wear.

All the chatter has been about the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 running Wear OS – and indeed, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 will show off the new combined experience, with a unified platform that brings together Tizen and Wear OS technology.

The good news is that this unified OS will be open for other manufacturers to use, just like the current Wear OS.

Here's what you need to know and a look at what we can expect from Wear when it lands.

Wear OS/Samsung update in brief:

  • Wear OS to get biggest ever update
  • Unified OS with Wear OS and Tizen merging
  • Samsung will use Wear OS on its devices; Fitbit to launch Wear OS smartwatch
  • Longer battery life (2 days) and new app switching feature
  • New and improved apps for Wear OS

Will current Wear OS smartwatches get Wear OS 3.0?

Wear OS 3.0 update: Guide to the new Google and Samsung OS

Will the TicWatch Pro 3 get Wear OS 3.0?

This is a question no doubt a lot of current Wear OS owners will have been wanting answers to when Google made the announcement about this substantial update to its smartwatch platform. So far, some hardware partners have been more forthcoming about the update situation than others.


Wear OS chipset makers Qualcomm confirmed Wear OS 3.0 can run on current Wear smartwatches. It's said that devices running on its Snapdragon Wear 3100 and 4100 processors are technically capable of running new Wear and it's actively looking to bring the experience to watches that run on its Wear 4100 platform.

However, Google has issued a less committed statement:

"User experience is a top priority for us. We have not confirmed eligibility or timeline on whether any Wear OS smartwatch will update to the new unified platform. There are many technical requirements in order to run the unified platform that ensures all components of the user experience are optimized."

Fossil

The fashion brand that has launched smartwatches with Michael Kors, Diesel and Emporio Armani confirmed that while it will be launching its Fossil Gen 6 smatwatch with similar features to the new Wear-packing Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. Existing Fossil smartwatches will not be updated to the new software. It wasn't made clear if this was due to those watches not meeting hardware requirements or there was another reason for those watches to miss out.

Mobvoi

While a Mobvoi support team rep had appeared to confirm the TicWatch Pro 3 would run on Wear OS 3.0, Mobvoi wasn't able to confirm this when we approached them for comment.

Suunto

We approached Suunto for comment about whether the Suunto 7 would be updated to Wear OS 3.0, and they could not provide confirmation if it would be updated.

When we reached out to Google, they provided us this statement in terms of the state of play with update plans:

"User experience is a top priority for us. We have not confirmed eligibility or timeline on whether any Wear OS smartwatch will update to the new unified platform. There are many technical requirements in order to run the unified platform that ensures all components of the user experience are optimized."

So while we are starting to form more of a picture of what Wear OS 3.0 or Wear has in store for us, we hope to find out a lot more ahead of the big Wear OS 3.0 launch, which we anticipate will happen before the end of 2021.

We'll keep this page updated with all the latest on new Wear and the smartwatches that will support it.

Wear OS 3.0 changes and what's new?

Google revealed details at its I/O developer conference and beyond its main keynote also dished out more details in its developer sessions to give us more of a flavour of what to expect. You can get a closer look in the video above, but here's some of the highlights:

Performance improvements

The unified Wear OS/Tizen (we suspect the lion’s share of this is Wear OS) will bring a 30% increase in performance, slicker animations and UI and a boost in loading times of apps.

There’s also improved battery life, but there’s no firm details on how long – but it seems it will be two days max. However, Google used the example that "includes handy optimizations like the ability to run the heart rate sensor continuously during the day, track your sleep overnight and still have battery for the next day.” We told you to temper your excitement.

App switching

App switching

New features of Wear also mentioned include quick app switching with a double tap of one of the physical watch buttons letting you switch between apps. The apps not in use can continuously work in the background letting you go back and forth between them. You'll be also be able to see most recent apps at the top of the new app launcher.

More third party Tiles

More third party Tiles

Something Google had already announced for the platform was the move to open up the API for its Tiles widgets to enable more custom tiles that work on all watches that run on new Wear. Google has already confirmed it has been working on third party tiles with Calm, Hole 19, Adidas Running and others pictured above.

Watch face creation powered by Samsung

Wear OS 3.0 update: Guide to the new Google and Samsung OS

Google has revealed that one of the features brought over from Samsung's smartwatch platform that will benefit users is the ability to make it easier for designers to create watch faces for Wear smartwatches. Fitbit's influence will be felt here too with its Bitmoji watch faces, which are also set to be integrated into the new Wear experience.

Health services

Along with Fitbit's role in Wear, which we'll go into below, Google announced a new Health services platform that's designed to help developers build simple health and fitness services for Wear. This aspect of the new Wear has been created closely with Samsung. A big focus is to create this new apps and tap into onboard sensors like heart rate monitors while aiming to preserve battery life.

Wear OS 3.0: Fitbit to provide fitness tracking

Wear OS 3.0: Fitbit to provide fitness tracking

James Park, CEO of Fitbit which was acquired by Google, announced that Fitbit would be powering the fitness tracking experience on the new Wear OS. He highlighted “tracking health progress and on-wrist celebrations for motivation”, which leads us to believe the experience will be simple at first.

Google has offered a glance of what to expect and it looks heavily inspired by the UI already used on Fitbit's Versa and Sense smartwatches. So you'll be able to see a snapshot of your day including heart rate data and and Active Zone Minutes.

Park also announced that Fitbit would be launching “health watches based on Wear using Google’s ambient computing capabilities,” which means we should see Wear OS Fitbits in the next year.

And there was news of revamped Wear OS apps, which by all accounts has been the driver for Samsung to jump back in with Google for Wear OS.

Wear OS 3.0 apps

There will be a bunch of “rebuilt apps” from the likes of Strava, Adidas Running, MyFitnessPal and Facer. A new Spotify app will also be launched and will include the offline playlist syncing support recently added to the Apple Watch Spotify app. You can get a closer look at what's in store in the video above.

Google is also seeking to improve its core apps including Google Maps, which will let you navigate without your phone when it launches on watches later in 2021. It's also improving Google Pay with support for 26 more countries and offer support to pay for transit on metro systems in the US.

Google's new Strava app for Wear OS 3.0

Google's new Strava app for Wear OS 3.0

It's also planning to revamp Google Assistant (about time) and there will also be the arrival of offline syncing for YouTube Music and Spotify.

In addition to bringing us more apps, it's going to offer a new way to install apps too. Google has revealed that you will soon be able to download and install apps directly from the Play Store phone app. It is also improving the way you can find those apps on the Store, which currently isn't a very easy thing to do.