Posted on

Google will release Wear OS 4 for Android smartwatches this fall

Although Wear OS 3 is still in the process of being released, Google has already announced the development of Wear OS 4, which is designed to enhance battery life and introduce cloud backups to the platform. The introduction of this new OS seems logical, especially with the recent launch of the Pixel Watch. However, the jump to Wear OS 4 is somewhat unexpected, given that the Wear OS platform had been neglected for quite some time until Google partnered with Samsung for a major revamp two years ago. Despite the rocky transition, Wear OS 3 gained traction in the latter part of 2022.

Fortunately, there is still time for Wear OS to address its issues. While the Wear OS 4 developer preview and emulator have been launched, the OS won’t be available to consumers until later this year. The upcoming OS will address two major issues with Wear OS 3 by extending battery life and introducing the ability for Android users to backup and restore their watches without the need for a factory reset. It’s worth noting that this feature is not yet available for Wear OS watches in 2023. Additionally, Wear OS 4 will offer new and improved accessibility features such as text-to-speech.

Enhanced battery life and backup capabilities would go a long way toward addressing two significant problems with Wear OS 3. In our testing, the Pixel Watch’s battery lasted for barely a day. Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 and 5 have also struggled in this regard, although battery life has improved since launch. Nevertheless, no Wear OS 3 watch is currently capable of lasting multiple days on a single charge. Additionally, the absence of cloud backups has been an ongoing issue for years.

Samsung and Google have collaborated to develop Watch Face Format, which simplifies the creation of watch faces for the platform, resulting in more power-efficient watch faces for Wear OS 4.

In terms of applications, Google is working to strengthen the Play Store and incorporate more Google services into the wearable platform. Wear OS will now support Gmail and Google Calendar, enabling users to respond to emails from their wrists and access their schedules, view, RSVP to events, and update task statuses.

The Home app will feature improved smart home integration on Wear OS, including enhanced device controls such as media and lighting adjustments and animated previews of camera notifications. Wear OS users will also be able to directly access favorites from the mobile app on their wrist.

Regarding third-party apps, WhatsApp is set to launch its first-ever smartwatch app in the upcoming weeks, allowing users to answer WhatsApp calls. Spotify will also introduce three new Tiles or widgets that highlight podcasts, a user’s heavy rotation, and Spotify DJ. Peloton, which introduced a Wear OS app last year, will add a workout streak tile.

It is reasonable for Google to want to maintain its momentum in the wearable market. 2022 was a pivotal year for Wear OS 3, with the release of the Pixel Watch, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 lineup, Montblanc’s Summit 3, and Fossil’s upgrades to its Wear OS 2 watches. Qualcomm also announced the Snapdragon W5 Plus platform, which is more powerful than its predecessor.

Despite these developments, several questions remain unanswered in the upcoming months. The most critical issue, however, is whether Google will execute this transition more effectively than the switch to Wear OS 3.

Firstly, it is unclear which hardware will have the capability to run or upgrade to Wear OS 4. When Google and Samsung announced the transition to Wear OS 3, only watches equipped with Samsung’s proprietary chipset or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform were eligible for the upgrade. Furthermore, Mobvoi users are still uncertain about when the new TicWatch running the W5 Plus and Wear OS 3 will be available, as well as the Wear OS 3 upgrades for previous TicWatches. In addition, third-party manufacturers like Fossil and Montblanc are awaiting Google Assistant compatibility for their Wear OS 3 watches, adding to the complexity.

Further details are likely to be revealed in the upcoming weeks and months. However, we can hope that Wear OS 4 will assist in reducing fragmentation rather than exacerbating it.

Wear OS Watch Faces See all »

[instagram-feed feed=3]