Google announces annual updates for Wear OS

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A few years ago, Google’s Wear OS seemed well on its way to joining the firm’s graveyard (where Google’s abandoned services rest in peace). The system was far from rivaling that of the Apple Watch and some manufacturers even abandoned Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) in favor of their own operating systems.

But starting in 2019, Google had a renewed interest in smartwatches. This year, the firm bought part of Fossil’s R&D for $40 million. Then there was the announcement of the acquisition of Fitbit, a specialist in connected watches, for 2 billion dollars.

In 2021, Google announced the merger of Wear OS with Samsung’s operating system, Tizen OS, to combine the advantages of both operating systems.

And this year, Google finally launched its own Pixel smartwatch, the Pixel Watch, which the company unveiled alongside the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro this October.

The Pixel Watch opens a new era for connected watches

The good news is that even if you don’t buy the connected watch from Google, you will still benefit from this renewed interest of the firm for this category of products. Indeed, more involved, it will now update the operating system every year (which was not the case before the arrival of the Pixel Watch).

This was revealed by Björn Kilburn, Google’s director of product management for Wear OS, in an interview with Wired magazine. He explained that Google’s goal is to release a new version of Wear OS every year, in the same way that the company releases a major Android update every year.

“[…] partly because we need to support mobile”, he added. Indeed, if Android updates, connected watches must be able to provide good compatibility with new smartphone features. Besides that, Wear OS will continue to enjoy quarterly updates.

The downside is that as with smartphones, it will be up to the connected watch manufacturers to manage these updates. In other words, even if a new version of Wear OS is released by Google, it’s your watch manufacturer who will decide whether and when to update their product.

It therefore becomes important to know the commitments of the manufacturers of connected watches with regard to software support. For example, Google has committed to providing software updates for the Pixel Watch until October 2025.

Anyway, just in case you’re still in doubt, Google is back into smartwatches again. “The evidence is there”said the head of the Mountain View company in his interview, referring to the collaboration with Samsung announced last year, and the fact that Google Pixel now offers its own connected watch.

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