Will your smartwatch get an upgrade to the new Wear operating system from Google and Samsung?


After years of silence from Google, Wear OS has finally returned to the forefront. New partnerships with Samsung and Fitbit have re-energized wearable devices that are compatible with Android, but there’s still a lot we don’t know. These two companies are currently powering some of the most popular wearable devices for Google’s mobile operating system, leaving many current owners unsure of the future of their watches.

Three players are involved in this new platform: Google, Samsung and Fitbit. Any watch currently running Wear OS seems like a prime candidate to receive this upgrade, but it’s not that straightforward. Very few watches run on current generation hardware. Currently, Mobvoi 2020 flagship TicWatch 3 Pro and its budget TicWatch E3 are the only wearable devices powered by a Snapdragon Wear 4100, with much of its competition still relying on the older Wear 3100. This includes Fossil, of which Company executives have not confirmed any of its existing watches will be upgraded to Google’s new Wear operating system.

While Mobvoi has been silent on updating its wearable devices, we’ve heard from Qualcomm about it. Apparently the Wear 3100 and 4100/4100 + are all “capable” of running this year’s updated software. However, Google followed up on Qualcomm’s comments with a vague statement regarding the new technical requirements, which appears to downplay the expectations of current watch owners.

Fortunately, Samsung’s plans are more concrete. It won’t upgrade current Tizen devices to Wear OS, although owners aren’t left behind. Samsung promises at least three years of software support from each launch date. So under this new policy, last year’s Galaxy Watch3 will receive updates until August 2023. If you currently own a Samsung Watch and want to upgrade to Wear OS, you’ll need to purchase the next (and fully) disclosed) Samsung Galaxy Watch4. You won’t quite feel like you, however, as it will sport a custom One UI skin.

Finally, there is Fitbit. Google finalized its purchase of the fitness-focused company in early 2021, and we were waiting to see if its future hardware would be based on Wear. Co-founder James Park has confirmed plans to build high-end watches running Google’s wearable operating system during yesterday’s keynote, but there’s no public plan on what might happen to flagship trackers last fall. Unlike Samsung, however, it looks like Fitbit is planning to continue offering low-cost wearable devices based on its own operating system, like the Fitbit Luxe announced earlier this year.

More information

Since Google unveiled its new plans for Wear OS at I / O, more information has come out regarding the plans for the current hardware. We have updated our coverage.


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