Wear OS (also known simply as Wear[7] and formerly Android Wear) is a version of Google's Android operating system designed for smartwatches and other wearables.[8][9][10] By pairing with mobile phones running Android version 6.0 or newer, or iOS version 10.0 or newer with limited support from Google's pairing application,[11] Wear OS integrates Google Assistant[12] technology and mobile notifications into a smartwatch form factor.

Wear OS
Wear OS icon.svg
Wear OS by Google wordmark.svg
Fossil Group, IFA 2018, Berlin (P1070137).jpg
The Fossil Q Venture (Gen 4) with Wear OS
DeveloperGoogle and Samsung
Written inC (core), C++, Java[1]
OS familyUnix-like
Working stateCurrent
Source modelOpen source with closed source components[2]
Initial releaseMarch 18, 2014; 7 years ago (2014-03-18)
Latest releaseWear OS 2.27 / December 2020; 1 year ago (2020-12)
Marketing targetSmartwatches
Available inMultilingual
Package managerAPK via Google Play
Platforms32-bit ARM, MIPS, x86
Kernel typeMonolithic (modified Linux kernel)
UserlandBionic libc,[3] shell from NetBSD,[4] native core utilities with a few from NetBSD[5]
Default
user interface
Graphical (Multi-touch)
LicenseApache License 2.0, Linux kernel patches under GPLv2[6]
Official websitewearos.google.com

Wear OS supports Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi,[13] 3G, and LTE connectivity, as well as a range of features and applications. Watch face styles include round, square and rectangular. Hardware manufacturing partners include Asus, Broadcom, Fossil, HTC, Intel, LG, MediaTek, Imagination Technologies, Motorola, New Balance, Qualcomm, Samsung, Huawei, Skagen, Polar, TAG Heuer, Suunto, and Mobvoi.[14]

In the first six months of availability, Canalys estimates that over 720,000 Android Wear smartwatches were shipped.[15] As of 15 March 2018, Wear OS had between 10 and 50 million application installations.[16] Wear OS was estimated to account for 10% of the smartwatch market in 2015.[17][needs update].

History and compatibilityEdit

 
Logo for Android Wear, the previous name of the operating system

The platform was announced on March 18, 2014, along with the release of a developer preview. At the same time, companies such as Motorola, Samsung, LG, HTC and Asus were announced as partners.[18] On June 25, 2014, at Google I/O, the Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch were launched, along with further details about Android Wear. The LG G Watch is the first Android Wear smartwatch to be released and shipped. Motorola's Moto 360 was released on September 5, 2014.

On December 10, 2014, an update started to roll out, adding new features including a watch face API and changed the software to be based on Android 5.0 "Lollipop".[19]

The LG G Watch[20] and Samsung Gear Live[21] started shipping in July 2014, while the Motorola Moto 360,[22] began shipping in September 2014. The next batch of Android Wear devices, which arrived at the end of 2014, included the Asus ZenWatch,[23] the Sony SmartWatch 3,[24] and the LG G Watch R.[25] As of March 2015, the latest Wear OS devices are the LG Watch Urbane,[26] and the Huawei Watch.[27][needs update]

On August 31, 2015, Google launched a Wear OS app for iOS version 8.2 or newer, allowing limited support for receiving iOS notifications on smartwatches running Wear OS.[28] As of September 2015, only the LG Watch Urbane and Huawei Watch are supported, but Google announced support for more smartwatch models.[11][29]

In March 2018, Android Wear was rebranded as Wear OS. It was stated that the renaming "better reflects our technology, vision, and most important of all — the people who wear our watches."[30] In September 2018, Google announced Wear OS 2.0, which made the personalized Google feed (replacing Google Now) and new fitness tracking platform Google Fit accessible from the watch face, and redesigned the notification area to use a scrolling pane rather than pages, and support automatically-generated smart replies (as on Android Pie).[31][32] In November 2018, the underlying platform of Wear OS was upgraded to a version of Android Pie.[33]

In January 2021, Google completed its acquisition of wearables manufacturer Fitbit; upon its announcement of the purchase in November 2019, Google's head of hardware Rick Osterloh stated that it would be "an opportunity to invest even more in Wear OS as well as introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market."[34][35]

 
Wear OS powered by Samsung

In May 2021 at Google I/O, Google announced a major update to the platform, internally known as Wear OS 3.0. It incorporates a new visual design inspired by Android 12, and Fitbit exercise tracking features. Google also announced a partnership with Samsung Electronics, who is collaborating with Google to unify its Tizen-based smartwatch platform with Wear OS, and has committed to using Wear OS on its future smartwatch products. The underlying codebase was also upgraded to Android 11.[36][37] Wear OS 3.0 will be available to Wear OS devices running Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 system on chip, and will be an opt-in upgrade requiring a factory reset to install.[38]

FeaturesEdit

Wear OS can synchronize notifications from a paired device, and supports voice control with the "OK Google" hotword along with gesture-based input.[39] Wear OS integrates with Google services such as the Google Assistant and Google mobile services (including Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Pay), as well as third-party watch apps from Play Store.[40][41] From the watch face, the user can swipe up to access their notifications, down to access a quick settings panel, from the left to view their personalized Google feed, and the right to view Google Fit.[39] Via Google Fit and similar applications, Wear OS supports ride and run tracking, and devices containing heart rate sensors can perform a reading on-demand, or at intervals throughout the day.[42] The watch can control media being played on streamed on paired devices.[41][40]

Version historyEdit

Android WearEdit

Android Wear version Android OS version Release date New features Notes
4.4W1 4.4 June 2014
  • Initial release
Announced at Google I/O 2014
4.4W2 4.4 October 2014
  • Offline music playback over Bluetooth[43]
  • Watch GPS support (for watches with built-in GPS)[44]
  • New music control UI[45]
1.0 (5.0.1W)[46] 5.0.1 December 2014
  • Official watch face API
  • Sunlight mode (brightness boost)
  • Theater mode
  • Settings shade from top
  • Battery stats in Android Wear app
  • Recently used actions added to the top in drawer
  • Ability to undo dismissed notification
This version changed the numbering scheme to be independent from the underlying Android OS version.
1.1 (5.1.1W1)[47] 5.1.1 May 2015
  • Wi-Fi support (for watches with built-in Wi-Fi)
  • Drawable Emojis (as response to messages)
  • Heads up notifications
  • Pattern lock screen
  • Ability to change font size
  • Add swipe left from watch face to access app drawer
  • Always on apps
  • More wrist gestures
1.3 (5.1.1W2)[48] 5.1.1 August 2015
  • Interactive watch faces
  • Google Translate for Wear
1.4 (6.0.1W1)[49] 6.0.1 February 2016
  • More wrist gestures
  • Speaker support for watches with built-in speaker
  • Send voice messages directly from the watch
1.5 (6.0.1W2)[50] 6.0.1 June 2016
  • Brought back restart watch option
  • Added Android security patch level to About screen
2.0 (7.1.1W1)[51] 7.1.1 Feb 2017[52]
  • Revamped UI with Material Design, darker colors, and a more circular user interface for round watches.
  • Standalone apps with Google Play Store on watch
  • Complications for watch faces
  • Built-in keyboard
  • Handwriting recognition
  • Stackable notifications
  • Smarter notifications
  • Cellular Support

[53]

2.6 (7.1.1W2)[54] 7.1.1 Nov 2017
  • Text size of notifications adapts to message length
  • New download progress indicator
  • New complication for launching previously-used app
2.6 (7.1.1W3, 8.0.0 W1)[55] 8.0 Dec 2017

Brings Android 8.0 Oreo features to smartwatches

  • Notification vibration strength setting
  • Touch lock option for wet conditions
  • Support for 7 new countries/languages
  • Notification Channels
  • Battery saving background limits
2.7 (7.1.1W4, 8.0.0 W2)[56] 8.0 Dec 2017
  • Improved typefaces and font weights
  • Complications now work with Talkback
  • Text size of notifications adapts to message length
  • Swipe down in Quick Settings to see connection type (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or mobile)
  • Download progress notifications
  • Recent App complication
  • Better prevention of accidental side-swipe and long-press gestures
2.8 (7.1.1W5, 8.0.0W3)[57] 8.0 Jan 2018
  • Improved notification glanceability with a new layout which shows more of the user's message at a glance
  • Darker background for better readability and less battery usage
2.9 (7.1.1W6, 8.0.0W4)[58] 8.0 Feb 2018
  • New notification preview complication which allows you to preview messages
  • Improved glanceability in notification cards with longer titles

Wear OSEdit

Wear OS version Android OS versions Release date New features Notes
1.0[59] Android 8 Oreo March 2018
  • Rebranding to Wear OS[60]
  • Expand Google Pay Support in more countries
Version number reset to "1.0".

Wear OS App version: 2.10[61]

1.4 Android 8 Oreo July 2018
  • Faster Google Pay startup
  • More glanceable design for events and appointments
  • Time zone sync bug fix[62]
Wear OS App version: 2.14[63]
2.0 Android 8 Oreo September 2018
  • Swipe actions for faster access to Google Assistant and Google Fit[31]
  • Google Assistant feed with proactive personalized information
  • New design for quick toggles and notifications stream
  • New music controls with physical button support
  • Bolder font in the app launcher
Wear OS App version: 2.18
2.2 Android 9 H MR1 November 2018 New features for System version H MR1:
  • Brings Android 9.0 Pie features to smartwatches
  • Enables Battery Saver mode to only display the time once the battery falls below 10%
  • Improves restoring the state of previously used apps
  • Watches now enter a deep sleep mode after 30 minutes of inactivity
  • Holding down the power button now provides options for shutting down or restarting the watch
Wear OS App version: 2.20
2.6 Android 9 H MR1 May 2019
  • Tiles functionality when swiping left, providing access to next calendar events, weather forecast, heart rate, news headlines and timer functionality.[64]
Wear OS App version: 2.24
2.7 Android 9 H MR1 June 2019
  • Bugfixes
Wear OS App version: 2.25
2.9 Android 9 H MR1 July 2019
  • Notifications
Wear OS App version: 2.26
2.17 Android 9 H MR1 April 2020
  • New 'Wash hands' timer regarding coronavirus.
  • New UI and Tiles for Google Fit
Wear OS App Version: 2.35
2.23 Android 9 H MR2 December 2020 Changes in System H MR2:[65][66]
  • CPU core improvements: app launch and boot time up to 20% faster
  • SysUI improvements: more intuitive controls for managing different watch modes and workouts
  • Increased performance with the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 and 4100+ platforms
  • Improved LTE support
  • Simplified pairing process
  • Better battery life
  • Support for an increased numbers of Tiles
  • New Weather Tile
  • Ability to turn off Long Press Power Button to activate Google Assistant
  • Ability to set the screen off time limit
  • New screen brightness layout
  • YouTube Music App[citation needed]
  • Google Fit: Workouts & Breathe Tiles + New home screen & New Sleep features
  • Social share and challenge[citation needed]
Wear OS App version: 2.41
3.0 Android 11 2021 Brings Android 11 features to smartwatches
  • New Design UI
  • New features
  • New improvements

Google & Fitbit partnership might bring advanced features:[citation needed]

-Health features to Google Fit:

  • Stress management
  • Compatible ECG app
  • Skin temperature
  • SpO2 levels
  • Sleep tracking
  • Wake up

-Hardware improvements:

  • Long battery life with Bluetooth improvements (up to a week)

-Social integration:

  • Social challenges
Wear OS App version: TBD

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit