- Wear OS has typically had a long shelf life, with new versions sometimes released on a two-year cadence based on previous versions of Android.
- Samsung is reportedly developing the Galaxy Watch 7 with Wear OS 5, based on Android 14, suggesting a shift towards yearly releases.
- The smartwatch industry is growing, and with big yearly updates, there are now more options for Android smartwatch buyers. However, Wear OS 4 still has some software problems that may need fixing.
Wear OS, the Android-based smartwatch operating system that has been supported by Google and Samsung watches since re-launching in 2021, has had a notoriously long shelf life when it comes to new versions. Usually, every two years or so, a new Wear OS version will be released based on the previous version of Android. If you went to a store to pick up a new Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, released last year, you’d get a watch running Wear OS 4, which is based on Android 13. A few years in the past, and your new smartwatch would have been based on the Android 11-based Wear OS 3. That’s all set to change moving forward, however.
According to a report from 9to5Google, Samsung is in the midst of developing the Galaxy Watch 7 with Wear OS 5, based on Android 14, in mind. The information that the report is based upon is not verified by Google or Samsung, but breadcrumbs have leaked over the past few months from other sources. The ever-reliable Mishaal Rahman spotted a note about Wear OS wallpaper scaling in the Android 14 QPR1 beta that directly named Wear OS 6 in the compatibility change’s description. Its implication hinted towards Wear OS 6 being based on Android 15, which, of course, means that Wear OS 5 would be based on Android 14.
All this adds together to show that Samsung and Google seem headed towards a yearly release cycle for Wear OS versions. Since Wear OS 2 — which has recently seen Google Assistant support shut down — the smartwatch operating system has based its UI off of every other Android version. Wear OS 2 used Android 9, Wear OS 3 used Android 11, and Wear OS 4 uses Android 13. As a note, Samsung adds its own flavor to its Galaxy Watches with the One UI Watch operating system on top of Google’s Wear OS, which is already based off of Android. It’s not that confusing.
If Wear OS 5 does indeed release this year based on Android 14, it made sense for it to debut on the Galaxy Watch 7 even before this report. Wear OS 4 debuted on the Galaxy Watch 6 before it got made its way to the Google Pixel Watch 2. The Google Pixel Watch 3 is rumored to be announced mid-2024, and with Samsung’s upcoming offering seemingly being released this year too, the smartwatch industry is finally big-time enough to get big yearly updates.
If you’re on the hunt for a new Android smartwatch, you’ve got some great options to choose from. Of course, the previously aforementioned Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 reigns supreme in our rankings, but the Mobvoi TicWatch E3 shows itself as the best bang for your buck pick, the TicWatch Pro 5 introduces its beast of a battery, and the Pixel Watch 2 looks the most stylish. All great hardware is limited by its software, however, and Wear OS 4 definitely has its fair share of problems. The good thing is that you can fix most of them, like the “OK Google” command not working, fairly simply. If Google and Samsung plan to support yearly Wear OS releases, prepare for a few more bugs to sort through throughout each generation.
Jessica Irvine is a tech enthusiast specializing in gadgets. From smart home devices to cutting-edge electronics, Jessica explores the world of consumer tech, offering readers comprehensive reviews, hands-on experiences, and expert insights into the coolest and most innovative gadgets on the market.