Wear OS 4 is the latest major version of Google's smartwatch software, boasting a handful of new features and performance upgrades from the previous version.
That doesn't mean receiving the Wear OS 4 update on your watch is straightforward, though.
Since Wear OS was effectively relaunched by Google and Samsung back in 2021, the rollout of its subsequent updates has often been pretty protracted.
So, to help you keep track of where things are, we've created this guide.
Here, we'll tackle exactly what's new in Wear OS 4, which smartwatches are currently compatible with the latest software (plus those that are still waiting), and how you can check for the update on your device.
What's new with Wear OS 4?
- Smartwatch cloud backups
- New watch face tools
- Battery life enhancements
It's fair to say that Wear OS 4 isn't as substantial an update as what we received through Wear OS 3, but there are still some definite reasons to favor it.
Chief among these is the ability - finally - to restore a backup when switching to another phone. Previously, you had to disconnect and reset the watch before pairing it to another device, which was a real pain, but the process is now much simpler.
Google and Samsung have also teamed up as part of Wear OS 4 to provide smarter watch face tools for developers - 'Watch Face Format'. Particularly, this helps those creating new watch faces provide more power-efficient options, as well as improved customization.
As announced at MWC 2024, watch faces developed under this format will also be futureproofed and be compatible with the 'hybrid interface' that debuted with the OnePlus Watch 2. This means these watch faces - when paired with a compatible device - will be able to remain super battery efficient.
- February 2024: Wear OS update promises 100-hour battery life
Owners of the original Google Pixel Watch will also be able to receive the second-gen watch's new safety features - Safety Check and Emergency Sharing - when they update to Wear OS 4.
Apps were also given a tweak to mark the update - though much of this has now trickled down to users with Wear OS 3 or Wear OS 3.5, too.
Gmail and Google Calendar both received facelifts that make it easier to manage events and reply from the wrist, while Google Home also expanded to include smart lock support.
Another upgrade announced at MWC 2024 was tweaks to Maps and Wallet, too. The former now includes support for turn-by-turn directions when traveling by bus, train, or ferry, while Wallet on the wrist now allows you to add passes and tickets.
Other apps Google featured during the unveiling of the new software, like the WhatsApp Wear OS app, have now also launched in full.
Wear OS 4 update: Compatible watches
Samsung became the first manufacturer to show off Wear OS 4 when it released the Galaxy Watch 6 series this summer, with its older devices also able to upgrade to the One Watch UI 5 skin of Google's platform.
Google then debuted its take on Wear OS 4 through the Pixel Watch 2's release in September. This has now also trickled down to owners of the Pixel Watch 1.
Since then, only the OnePlus Watch 2 has arrived with Wear OS 4, meaning the list of compatible watches is still very limited - as shown in the list below.
Which watches have Wear OS 4?
- Google Pixel Watch
- Google Pixel Watch 2
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 / Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 / Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 / Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
- OnePlus Watch 2
When will other smartwatches update to Wear OS 4?
At present, there's no word on whether smartwatches from Mobvoi, Xiaomi, Citizen, Tag Heuer, Montblanc, and others will be able to upgrade to Wear OS 4 - let alone when.
There are a couple of watches, the TicWatch Pro 5 and Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro, that are perhaps more likely due to the fact they currently run Wear OS 3.5 and feature the same Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 processor that's inside the Pixel Watch 2.
However, as we saw with the Wear OS 3 update's rollout, having the right processor isn't necessarily a sign that the update will arrive anytime soon.
With Fossil announcing its exit from smartwatches in January 2024, too, we won't be seeing any of its Gen 6 watches (or its sub-brands) upgrade to an improved version of Wear OS.
We'll continue to update this section when update announcements land, but don't hold your breath.
How to check for the Wear OS 4 update
There are sometimes hoops to jump through before you can update your Wear OS smartwatch, such as having your companion app up to date before attempting to update your watch.
However, if you're the owner of an older Pixel Watch or Galaxy Watch model and you just want to check to see if the Wear OS 4 update is ready for your watch, follow the steps below:
1. From the home screen/watch face, swipe down from the top of the display to open the dock.
2. Tap the 'Settings' icon and scroll down to 'System' in the list of options.
3. Choose 'About' and then 'System updates'.
4. Your watch will then give you the option to download the latest system version if it's not already installed.
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