Google confirms Wear OS 3 upgrade for a handful of current smartwatches — will yours get it, and when?


Since Google and Samsung announced a relaunched version of Wear OS at I/O two months ago, anyone with a current-gen smartwatch has wondered whether their device will receive an upgrade. Samsung and Fitbit have both been open regarding whether older wearables will move to Wear OS — the answer is a solid “no” — but Google has remained vague in its language over the last two months. Finally, we’re learning a lot more about the future of wearables on Android, and it’s not all good news.

In a new support page, Google has made clear that very few currently available watches will make the jump to Wear OS 3. The GPS and LTE variants of Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3, as well as the recently launched TicWatch E3 and Fossil’s upcoming devices, will all receive new software, more or less confirming that a Snapdragon Wear 4100 is required.

Before you run out and buy a new smartwatch, it’s important to look at the timetable for updates. According to Google, none of these devices will get Wear OS 3 before mid-to-late 2022. That’s over a year to wait for software that could be launching on new hardware as soon as next month, assuming Samsung’s slate of wearables is ready for primetime.

It’s not the only catch. Google states this system update will “bring the benefit of many of the new experiences, and in some limited cases, the user experience will also be impacted.” The second half of that sentence sounds like it could result in lower battery life or slow loading times, though we’ll have to wait until late next year to find out. Wear OS 3 will also require a full factory reset of your watch once it does become available.

Obviously, Google is concerned this update could cause issues with current-gen hardware, which is why Wear OS 3 will be entirely opt-in. The company plans to share more details sometime next year to help consumers make an “informed decision.”

For all of those who aren’t included in this limited batch of supported wearables — or if you end up choosing not to update — Google is still promising to support Wear OS 2.0 devices, using recent updates to Gboard and Google Play as an example. Security patches will also continue to be supported at a minimum of two years from the device’s launch.

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