This story was originally published and last updated .
It's fair to say that Wear OS has been stagnating lately. Google announced a few updates for its smartwatch operating system last week, but they're more like minor improvements than the major overhaul many feel the platform needs. Fossil and its subsidiaries make a lot of Wear OS watches, and now the company is taking matters into its own hands with an exclusive update that adds new health-tracking capabilities, a Phone app tile, and more.
The update starts rolling out today for Fossil Gen 5 smartwatches and includes an optimized activity tracker, V02 max estimates, sleep tracking, and cardio fitness tracking. The new Wellness app moves heart rate and step tracking from the Snapdragon 3100's central processor to its coprocessor, which reduces battery power needed during workouts.
Battery modes have also been revamped with a new look and new features like personalized profiles that allow users to quickly switch between balancing performance and longevity. Achieving two days of battery life was already possible on Gen 5 watches, so this should help it get even better.
Fossil is also adding a Phone tile for fast access to specific contacts directly from the watch. Apple users can take advantage of the tile as well, since the company added the ability for iPhone users to answer phone calls from Gen 5 watches last year.
Google may have paid $40 million to get Fossil tech, but it seems like Fossil is the one investing in the future of Wear OS right now. These new improvements sound like they'll make the Fossil Gen 5 products some of the best Wear OS watches you can get currently — at least until the company uses Qualcomm's newest smartwatch chip in an upcoming watch.
Google Pay broken
We're tracking a number of reports on social media that the so-called Wellness update may stop Google Pay from working.
@Fossil Your latest Wellness-App update has broken Google Pay on the Gen5 watches. Are you already aware of the issue?
— Christian (@Primetime_82) August 20, 2020
@Fossil Installed the Wellness Update on my Carlyle, now payments by Google Pay are rejected (in Germany) because software standards are not met. It seems others can't add cards due to allegedly rooted devices. Could you please look into that? Thanks!
— mingo (@mingo713) August 20, 2020
We did see one report from u/sissypaw in the WearOS subreddit that they were able to get Google Pay working with the update while u/bobigazda had to bring up the app's Play Store listing on the watch and then press "Enable." We're working on testing that out with our own unit and will report back if we can get results.
Hope and more watches
There has been at least one more report saying that the Google Pay issue has been fixed, seemingly self-resolved. But we'd like to weigh that against more current accounts.
We should also note that in addition to the Fossil Garrett, Carlyle, and Julianna, the Skagen Falster 3, Diesel On Axial, and Michael Kors Bradshaw 2 also have this update.