A new version of Wear OS arrives every year, and updates are still on the right track

The first-party Pixel Watch is the next biggest moment for Wear OS following the Samsung partnership last year. Today the responsible team provided an update on the status of the platform.

wired Talking to Wear OS director of product management Bjorn Kilborn revealed in an interview how Google aims to “release a new version in a mobile-like fashion generally every year”. It is unclear whether the annual update target will count, for example, 3.0 -> 4.0 or 3.0 -> 3.5, which has happened this year on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Pixel Watch.

This annual release cadence stems from making sure the latest Android “watches and headphones” features are integrated quickly. In the meantime, Kilburn notes, “wear quarterly updates to deliver ‘new experiences’ throughout the year.” It’s possible to go back to the feature drops that the Pixel Watch gets, or the seasonal Android rewards.

Meanwhile, Wear OS 3 means watch makers are responsible for over-the-air (OTA) updates with Wear OS 2 instead of Google. We’ve already seen how version 3 requires watch makers to create their own companion apps instead of relying on Google. Coming to the Wear OS Phone app, it will still be available for the “Local Edition Wear OS 3 Smartwatch in China”.

When asked about Google Fit in relation to Fitbit, Kilburn didn’t say how widely the latter would be available or what the future of the former would hold, other than as it remains available.

For Wear OS 2 watches owners, Google is repeating the Wear OS 3 update for devices running the Snapdragon Wear 4100 and 4100+, with it still expected later this year. This will require a device reset.

Finally, Google said it was “fully committed” to Wear OS. Looking to the future, the team is working to improve battery life to allow manufacturing of smaller devices.

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