Reviews - January 30, 2024

Wear OS | Latest news on Fossil, Moto 360 and more

What is Wear OS?

Wear OS is Google’s wearable platform designed to run on watches. It’s based on a modified version of Android designed by Google and used in many third-party smartwatches from companies including Fossil, Mobvoi, and others.

The platform is designed to pair with smartphones (best suited for Android, but is compatible with iPhone) and Mirror Notifications. Developers can also create apps for Wear OS and submit them to the Google Play Store for users to download. Google Assistant is a core feature of the platform, enabling voice control and smart home integration. Google Fit is also a core part of all watches that use the Google platform, and most support a heart rate monitor for fitness tracking.

Google’s focus on Wear OS in recent years has allowed the platform to do more on its own than it did in the past. LTE watches have arrived, and better specs have also helped address performance complaints. Watch prices vary by model, but some models cost less than $200, and most of our favorite watches cost around $300.

Google has teased that the next ‘platform update’ will be released in late 2021, with some notable changes, including tiles for third-party apps. You can read more about this here. here.

In 2021, Google successfully completed its acquisition of Fitbit. When the deal was first announced, Google teased that it would present an opportunity to “invest more in Wear OS,” but nothing has come out about that announcement yet.

fossil 5th generation carlyle timeGoogle Assistant shown on Fossil Gen 5

When was Wear OS released?

Google first announced this platform in 2014 under the name Android Wear.

In 2017, the platform released its “2.0” update, which overhauled the UI and gave apps a detached experience on the phone and installed independently of the Play Store. The following March, Google officially changed Android Wear to Wear OS to better appeal to more customers.

Who uses Wear OS?

You’ll find Wear OS on many smartwatches because Google makes its platform available to many OEMs rather than building their own operating system from scratch. Most smartwatches using the platform are powered by Qualcomm chipsets, and the company’s Snapdragon Wear series is optimized for smartwatches.

Fossil is the biggest brand in the field and sells its own models for around $200-$300. The company’s sub-brands, including Skagen, Misfit, Diesel, and others, also use the platform at various price points, but they generally all have the same feature set.

Mobvoi is another notable competitor in this space. Google has previously invested in the Chinese company, and Wear OS strengthens its TicWatch lineup. In particular, Mobvoi’s TicWatch 3 Pro is the first product to use the Snapdragon Wear 4100 chip.

Other brands associated with this platform include Casio, Montblanc, Louis Vuitton, and Tag Heuer. But despite the variety of brands, the market share of Google’s platform has long been small and stagnant. In 2020, the smartwatch market showed an upward trend despite the pandemic, but the Google platform had a lower market share than Fitbit, which was shrinking to 6.2% at the time.

What’s next for Wear OS?

At Google I/O 2021, the company announced a complete overhaul of Wear OS. In the platform’s “biggest update ever,” Google teams up with Samsung to create a “unified platform.”

While much of what will be included in this “Wear 3.0” update is still unknown, there are a few things we know for sure. Google says the platform will focus on better battery life and better health features that were lacking in previous versions. The new focus on health will be driven primarily by the newly acquired Fitbit, and based on initial appearances, it will be a near-exact copy of the features found in current Fitbit smartwatches such as the Versa 3 and Sense. The new version is based on Android 11.

There are a lot of unknowns about the new hardware that will run the improved Wear. Fitbit has been working on creating a “premium” smartwatch under Wear, and Samsung has all but confirmed that the Galaxy Watch 4 series will also be running updates.

Below you can read the latest news about the platform and its apps.