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Exploring Wear OS 4: What to Expect in the Next Major Smartwatch Update

Through collaborative efforts, Google and Samsung have made significant strides in rejuvenating the Wear OS landscape. The introduction of Wear OS 3, showcased on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series, infused Google’s wearable platform with rejuvenated capabilities and a revamped user interface. Although it took nearly seven years to arrive at version 3.0, Wear OS 4 is now accessible as a Developer Preview, and it is anticipated to roll out to both new and existing smartwatches in the forthcoming months. In this article, we will delve into all the details surrounding the most recent and impressive advancements in Wear OS.

What is Wear OS 4?

Wear OS 4, the forthcoming iteration of Wear OS, is built upon Android 13 and represents a notable advancement from the current Wear OS 3.5. At present, Wear OS 3.5 is accessible on devices such as the Google Pixel Watch, various Galaxy Watch models powered by Wear OS, and the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5.

Which additional functionalities can we expect to find in Wear OS 4?

While Wear OS 4 is not anticipated to deliver a drastically altered user experience compared to Wear OS 3.x, it is poised to bring forth various enhancements. At Google’s recent I/O event, glimpses of Wear OS 4 optimizations were unveiled, promising prolonged battery life, the introduction of fresh watch applications for Google Calendar and Gmail, a convenient backup-and-restore tool to streamline the transition between different Wear OS watches, enhanced text-to-speech performance, and a novel permissions system that automatically grants approved permissions from your phone to corresponding watch applications.

In collaboration with Samsung, Google is working towards adding a new watch face format for Wear OS 4. The introduction of the new Watch Face Format, which employs a declarative XML format, simplifies the process of designing new watch faces by reducing the amount of manual work required. It’s important to note that Watch Face Format is exclusively supported on Wear OS 4. Nonetheless, Samsung has developed the Watch Face Studio tool, enabling developers to create watch faces utilizing Watch Face Format on Wear OS 4 devices while maintaining backward compatibility with Wear OS 3 watches.

XDA Developers made an observation that Android Virtual Devices running Wear OS 4 appear to be compatible with the adaptive colors of Material You. Although Google has not officially announced this feature, and XDA was unable to customize the theme of its virtual watch, it appears that Material You theming will be available in Wear OS 4 right from its initial release.

Wear OS 4 might bring a substantial improvement in usability, enabling users to transfer their Wear OS watches between different phones without requiring a factory reset on the wearable device. In the case of Galaxy Watches running the beta version of Wear OS 4-based One UI 5 Watch, it is possible to move them from one phone to another without performing a reset, as long as all devices involved are logged in to the same Google account. This development holds significant potential for individuals who frequently switch between multiple phones.

What is the timeline for Wear OS 4 to be available on my watch?

Considering the prolonged and challenging process of rolling out Wear OS 3 to older watches from manufacturers such as Mobvoi and Fossil, it is probable that numerous existing watches may not receive the update in the near future, if at all. While we would certainly welcome being proven wrong in this regard, past experiences advise us to be cautious and avoid getting overly optimistic.

Google has officially announced that Wear OS 4 will arrive in the autumn season. Our anticipation is that it will make its debut on the upcoming Pixel Watch from Google and Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 5 devices. The beta program for Samsung’s One UI 5 Watch, which operates on Wear OS 4, has already commenced. Furthermore, we are also eagerly awaiting the release of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 during the summer, which is expected to come equipped with the latest version of Wear OS. Therefore, considering these developments, it is possible that Google’s estimated timeline for a fall release may err on the side of caution.

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