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After years of silence from Google, Wear OS has finally returned to the spotlight. New partnerships with Samsung and Fitbit have reenergized Android-friendly wearables, but there’s still a lot we don’t know. Both of these companies currently power some of the most popular wearables for Google’s mobile OS, leaving many current owners unsure 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 so simple. Very few watches are running on current-gen hardware. Currently, Mobvoi’s 2020 flagship TicWatch 3 Pro and its budget-friendly TicWatch E3 are the only wearables powered by a Snapdragon Wear 4100, with much of its competition still relying on the older Wear 3100. That includes Fossil, whose company executives have confirmed none of its existing watches will be upgraded to Google’s new Wear OS.
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
While Mobvoi has been quiet on whether its wearables will be updated, we have heard from Qualcomm on the subject. Apparently, both the Wear 3100 and the 4100/4100+ are all “capable” of running this year’s refreshed software. However, Google followed up on Qualcomm’s comments with a vague statement regarding new technical requirements, which seems to downplay the expectations of current watch owners.
Thankfully, Samsung’s plans are more concrete. It won’t upgrade current Tizen devices to Wear OS, though owners aren’t left out to dry. Samsung is promising at least three years of software support from each launch date. So, under this new policy, last year’s Galaxy Watch3 will receive updates through August 2023. If you currently own a Samsung watch and want to switch to Wear OS, you’ll need to buy Samsung’s upcoming (and thoroughly-leaked) Galaxy Watch4. You won’t feel entirely out of place, though, as it’ll sport a custom One UI skin.
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 earlier this year.