After years of silence from Google, Wear OS has finally returned to the spotlight. Android-friendly smartwatches are getting some long-awaited apps to bring them up to modern standards, alongside faster launching, longer battery life, and new partnerships with both Samsung and Fitbit. Both of those companies currently power some of the most popular wearables for Android, leaving many owners up in the air about the future of their watch.
There are three players involved in this new platform: Google, Samsung, and Fitbit. Any watch currently running Wear OS seems like a prime candidate to receive this upgrade, but it's not quite that simple. The only watch that has shipped running on current-gen hardware in the last year is Mobvoi's TicWatch 3 Pro. It's powered by a Snapdragon Wear 4100, while much of its competition is stuck using the older Wear 3100. Whether or not hardware limitations get in the way of a future update is unclear. For its part, Google gave a vague statement to 9to5Google, promising "more updates to share on timelines once the new version launches later this year."
We’re combining the best of @wearosbygoogle and @SamsungMobile Tizen into a unified wearable platform. ⌚ Apps will start faster, battery life will be longer and you'll have more choice than ever before, from devices to apps and watch faces. #GoogleIO pic.twitter.com/vj2aYZD81x
— Google (@Google) May 18, 2021
Thankfully, Samsung's plans are slightly more concrete. The company intends to launch a new smartwatch with Wear OS later this year — likely the rumored Galaxy Watch 4 lineup that's been talked about for months. For current Tizen devices, Samsung promises at least three years of software support from each launch date, but the company won't move them to Wear OS. Under this new policy, last year's Galaxy Watch 3 will receive updates through August 2023.
Finally, there's Fitbit. Google completed its purchase of the fitness-focused company at the start of 2021, and we've been waiting to hear whether its future hardware would be based on Wear. Co-founder James Park confirmed plans to build high-end watches running Google's wearable OS during yesterday's keynote, but there are no public plans for what could happen to last fall's flagship trackers. Unlike Samsung, however, it sounds like Fitbit plans to continue to offer low-cost wearables based on its own operating system like the Fitbit Luxe announced last month.