At I / O 2021 in May, Google announced a complete overhaul of the portable platform. We have since seen the new operating system previewed on an emulator, while Samsung has confirmed that the new Galaxy Watch will be the first to run it. Many questions remain about Wear OS 3, and Google today addressed the update situation for current watch owners.
First, Google now officially refers to the unified platform as “Wear OS 3.” Since the announcement, there has been great confusion about whether this upcoming portable operating system will run on existing smartwatches. It was partly sown by customer support agents who gave conflicting statements, and two major watchmakers finally issued statements in June about upgrade plans that were not yet complete.
Google today cleared up the uncertainty and finally announced that only a few devices already on sale today will receive the Wear OS 3 update. These watches are Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 GPS (review), TicWatch Pro 3 Cellular / LTE and TicWatch E3 (review).
Meanwhile, Google tacitly revealed that there will be new watches from Fossil Group and Mobvoi that do not run Wear OS 3 out of the box, but get the opportunity to update later. In the case of Fossil, today̵
The TicWatch models are scheduled to receive the update, and run the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 announced in June last year, thus providing some insight into what the minimum hardware requirements are.
However, Google warned that watches that do not run Wear OS 3 – that is, those that upgrade after launch – will see unspecified “impacts” on the user experience in “some limited cases.” The company was not specific today as to whether this refers to any new features not being available or performance limitations. The implication is that even devices running a chip from last year are not able to run the unified platform optimally given how important the upcoming Wear OS upgrade is, but Google still wanted to give these recent buyers an upgrade path.
For this reason, the Wear OS 3 update will be optional and made available on an opt-in basis for individual owners of TicWatch and Fossil Group products. End users who decide to upgrade must reset the device from the factory during the process and restart. Google promises to “provide more information in advance of the update so that you can make an informed decision.”
As for the timeline, partners will not begin the Wear OS 3 upgrade until “mid to the second half of 2022.”
Wear OS 2.0 users who decide not to upgrade will continue to receive new app experiences on a par with Gboard and the Material you play store, as well as security updates for at least two years from device launch.
“We are committed to providing new experiences for current Wear OS users and those who choose not to upgrade.”
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