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Google has announced a new version of its Wear OS system. Called Wear OS 3, it’s slowly coming to market, but for what watches and with what features? We take stock.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic and Wear OS 3
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic sous Wear OS 3 // Source: Frandroid

In the spring of 2021, Google announced a major innovation for Wear OS, its operating system for connected watches. The result of a merger with Tizen, Samsung’s competing operating system, Wear OS 3 is gradually coming to market, first on Samsung models, then on the Pixel Watch before other models are updated.

But what are the supported connected watches, built-in features, and new features planned for this new version of Wear OS? This is what we will see in this complete file.

Connected watches compatible with Wear OS 3

If Google announced the redesign of Wear OS on May 18, 2021, few models are currently benefiting from this new software resulting from the merger with Tizen. To tell the truth, only two watches are already supported, but other models are already planned, either thanks to updating the watches already on the market or launching new ones. Smart Watches.

Watches already running Wear OS 3

For now, only a few watches are already equipped with Wear OS 3. These are the latest models from Samsung, the Google watch and some flashy ones from Fossil, Montblanc or Skagen:

The watches that will be updated under Wear OS 3

If these watches are the only ones that have been released already equipped with the latest Google system, other eye-catching ones will be updated. This is the case with the latest watches from Fossil and Mobvoi, but also from Tag Heuer:

These are connected watches that take advantage of the latest version of Qualcomm’s watch chip, the Snapdragon Wear 4100, or 4100+ in the case of Fossil and Tag Heuer watches. So it’s easy to imagine that watches equipped with a less efficient chip won’t be able to take advantage of this new version of Wear OS.

Mobvoi's TicWatch Pro 3 will be updated to Wear OS 3
Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 will be updated to Wear OS 3 // Source: Frandroid

As usual, Fossil also offers multiple versions of its Gen. 6 for the different brands the manufacturer works with. So we should be entitled to Wear OS 3 on Michael Kors, Puma, Skagen, Emporio Armani or Diesel watches.

Future watches expected under Wear OS 3

In addition to Fossil, Ticwatch, Tag Heuer, and Samsung, other manufacturers should be releasing Wear OS 3 watches in the near future. We’re thinking in particular of Oppo, whose first connected watch, the Oppo Watch, was based on Wear OS 2. While its Watch 2 is equipped with RTOS in China, but also on Fitbit. The American manufacturer, acquired in 2021 by Google, has already confirmed, during the presentation of the Fitbit Charge 5, that it was working on a Wear OS 3 watch instead of its own system, Fitbit OS.

Since then, if Fitbit has announced two watches under its own system, the Sense 2 and Versa 4 -and has worked on the Pixel Watch-, we are still waiting for a first Wear OS watch stamped with the brand.

google pixel clock
Source: Google

Also, like every year, Samsung should take advantage of next summer to present new connected watches. Like the Galaxy Watch 5, these Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 should once again benefit from Wear OS 3.

The new features of Wear OS 3

Google has not commented on the new features planned for Wear OS 3. During Google I/O 2021, the firm unveiled some essentially iterative innovations such as better autonomy management or better performance. However, we had to wait for the first models to launch to really find out what Wear OS 3 was capable of.

Better performance and longer battery life

At the Google I/O conference on May 18, 2021, Google presented its partnership with Samsung with the aim of offering “a unified platform focused on faster performance, longer battery life, and a thriving developer community”.

Google says Wear OS 3 launches apps 30% faster
Google says Wear OS 3 launches apps 30% faster // Source: Google

Specifically, the new version of Wear OS allows you to launch applications 30% faster, with the same processor, than Wear OS 2. The animations are also more fluid to move from one screen to another. On the battery side, while CPU power, screen size, and battery capacity all obviously play a role, Wear OS 3 can now use the CPU’s low-power cores for certain metrics like battery life. pace, heart rate, or number of steps. Therefore, these tasks no longer consume as much power as in previous versions of the system.

Third-party app tiles

With Wear OS, which later succeeded Android Wear, Google added a new feature since it took over most watches on the market: tiles. These are screens that can be found by swiping left or right from the main dial to find certain information from different apps.

However, these tiles were still particularly limited in their use. Indeed, if we could find the weather data, the Google Fit data or the widgets of the applications pre-installed by the manufacturer, it is impossible for the user to add tiles from third-party applications. Now it’s possible with Wear OS 3.

The app tiles on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
Application tiles on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic // Source: Frandroid

The new version of the operating system for Smart Watches allows third-party developers to design their own tiles by opening up the Tiles API. Thus, users can install an app from the Google Play Store directly on their watch and then display the corresponding app tile on the right of the home screen if they wish.

Better shortcut management

Also during the presentation of the new version of Wear OS at Google I / O, the firm was quick to mention a new shortcut management. In concrete terms, users will be able to use the various physical buttons on their watch to launch their favorite app. In the example shown by Google, a double press on one of the two keys on the watch will return to the previously opened application, as is already the case with a double press on the multitasking button on smartphones.

On the Galaxy Watch 4, Samsung has also enabled user customization of the two buttons. So, you can choose to launch a particular app with a double tap on the top button. This feature should be offered on all Wear OS 3 watches on the market.

Customizable interface by manufacturers

While Android smartphone users are used to having different software interface proposals depending on the brand of their phone, this was not the case until now on Wear OS.

It seems that this is one of the main novelties that Wear OS 3 brings, at least from Samsung. In its Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic, the Korean firm has offered a personalized interface, quite different from the one present in previous Wear OS watches, and which is very clearly inspired by the one found in its own smartphones. Logically named One UI Watch, the interface uses the same menus as on Galaxy smartphones.

The One UI Watch interface on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
The One UI Watch interface on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic // Source: Frandroid

At the moment, we do not know if this possibility for manufacturers to offer their own software interface will be exclusive to Samsung -as a privileged partner of Google- or if other manufacturers will be entitled to it. In any case, we imagine that some brands, which don’t have a particularly noteworthy manufacturer interface like Fossil or TicWatch, will adopt the basic system interface, while others, like Samsung or Oppo, could customize the software experience.

A new basic interface

In addition to Samsung watches, some models also offer a classic Wear OS 3 interface. This is the case with the Montblanc Summit 3, but also, and above all, with the Pixel Watch. These watches allow you to discover the interface to use on all connected watches that do not offer a manufacturer-customized interface.

Specifically, we can discover items that stand out much better in menus, either with different boxes with rounded edges or with gradients when the items are activated. The interface is also a bit more colorful, seeming to take on the colors of the dial, like what Google already offers in Android 12.

No more Wear OS app

In the same way, the Wear OS smartphone app is no longer used to connect your watch to your phone.

In the case of the new Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 5, Google’s Wear OS application – which until now was used to assemble and configure the watch from your smartphone – is not necessary at any time. In fact, the manufacturer asks users to install its own application, Galaxy Wearables. The same goes for the Pixel Watch, with its dedicated app, or all the other watches on the market.

This represents a big project for manufacturers, some of whom have little software experience, as they must build their own companion app for connected watches from scratch. It is not yet clear how the various manufacturers will position themselves. If Ticwatch and Fossil already benefited from their own apps, manufacturers could now choose to go through them alone, without users needing to install Wear OS on their phones.

Gestures customized by manufacturers

The launch of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 allowed us to discover a small novelty in terms of the various gestures in Wear OS 3, at least on Samsung. While until now Google’s system required pressing a button to bring up the list of apps while sliding the dial from bottom to top to bring up notifications, Samsung has gone a different route.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 allows you to open the list of applications by swiping up
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 allows you to open the list of applications by swiping up // Source: Frandroid

On the Galaxy Watch 4, the list of installed apps can be accessed by swiping from bottom to top, just like finding the app launcher in Android. The buttons are only used to return to the home dial or to return to the previous application.

In Google, on the other hand, the list of applications is opened by pressing the rotating crown of the Pixel Watch. Thus, each manufacturer has its own navigation experience.

Wear OS 3 Classification Date

As we’ve seen, Wear OS 3 will arrive not only with upcoming watches, but also via updates to a handful of watches already on the market.

For now, only the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, Watch 4 Classic, Watch 5, Watch 5 Pro, Google Pixel Watch, MontBlanc Summit 3, Skagen Falster Gen 6 and Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition already benefit from this new version of Wear BONE. However, Mobvoi was initially planning an update to its TicWatch Pro 3 and Ticwatch E3 in the second half of 2022. However, the update appears to be delayed. On Fossil’s side, the upgrade from Fossil Gen. 6 to Wear OS 3 is scheduled for 2023, with no further details.

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