When we first learned that Google and Samsung were merging to create Wear OS 3, the announcement was met with much excitement. Unfortunately, that excitement was quickly followed by a lot of unanswered questions and confusion. Considering that many of the best Android smartwatches rely on Wear OS, we were all left wondering which devices would be updating to the new platform.
If you're already the proud owner of an existing Wear OS watch, you're probably eager to learn the fate of your device. While some current wearables will be eligible for the update, others will not. Those who are thinking about buying a smartwatch soon will also want to figure out which models will be eligible for the update so they can make the best choice possible.
The only smartwatches currently running on Wear OS 3 are the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. Needless to say, Samsung has the upper hand in the wearable market for the foreseeable future, especially if you've got your sights set on a watch with Wear OS 3.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Series
The new Galaxy Watch 4 models are the first devices to run Wear OS 3. This might not be the best example of what to expect from the platform. After all, this is a Samsung smartwatch above all else. Previous Galaxy Watch users should know that the new models aren't wildly different from the previous models.
One of the key differences that Tizen users will notice is the presence of preloaded Google apps.
Of course, you can make the necessary customizations so that your watch looks and acts like a Wear OS watch if that's what you prefer, but Samsung is still at the heart of these wearables. As you might've guessed, one of the key differences that Tizen users will notice is the presence of preloaded Google apps.
Some examples include Google Maps, Messages by Google, Google Pay, and YouTube Music. While Google Assistant isn't available at launch, the company plans to add it at a later date. Of course, you can still access Samsung Pay and Bixby, from the new Galaxy watches.
Keep in mind that you'll need to have the Samsung Health Monitor app installed on your phone if you want to enjoy many of the new health features on the Galaxy Watch 4. Unfortunately, this app is only available for download from the Samsung Galaxy Store, an app store only found on Samsung Galaxy phones. This could be a major red flag for users with non-Samsung-branded Android phones.
Additionally, while previous Galaxy Watch models were compatible with iOS, that's not the case for the new models. Currently, the Galaxy Watch 4 models offer no iOS compatibility whatsoever, and Samsung hasn't indicated whether or not that will change in the future.
Select Mobvoi TicWatch smartwatches
The group of users that can breathe a sigh of relief is anyone who currently owns or plans to purchase one of the new TicWatch smartwatches. A few lucky models will be eligible for the Wear OS 3 update, but you'll still have to wait a while.
The new models with the Snapdragon Wear 4100 processor, including the TicWatch Pro 3 and TicWatch E3, will have the option to update to Wear OS 3 in the near future. The earliest possible rollout is expected to happen around mid-2022 or even during the second half of the year. Fortunately, users who purchased these new devices won't be stuck with the old platform indefinitely. Owners of past Mobvoi wearables won't be as lucky, though.
Future Fossil Gen 6 smartwatches
Right when Samsung was announcing the Galaxy Watch 4 and other new products, Fossil had an announcement of its own to make. Coming later this year, the new Fossil Gen 6 smartwatches will be released and (eventually) offer Wear OS 3.
This leaves a very large group unaccounted for: anyone who owns an existing Fossil smartwatch or is thinking about buying one. If you're liking the sound of owning a smartwatch with the new Wear OS 3 software, you should think twice about purchasing a current model. You'd be wise to wait for the new generation of watches to hit the market. Fossil has made a point to refer to these new models as 'premium' watches, so they likely won't be cheap.
Who's getting left behind?
If your watch wasn't mentioned above, it might be one of the many devices getting left behind. This is especially disappointing for people who recently purchased their wearable, such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, for example. Even though it's only a year old, it won't be eligible to get the Wear OS 3 update; in fact, none of the previous Samsung Galaxy Watch models will.
The previous Galaxy Watch models will continue to run Tizen OS and receive updates for some time.
What does this mean for the other models? The previous Galaxy Watch models will continue to run Tizen OS and receive updates for some time. Samsung says, "For customers who already own the Tizen OS-based Galaxy smartwatches, we are continuing to provide at least three years of software support after the product launch."
As you can imagine, just how long you'll continue receiving this support depends on when your product was released. Therefore, you'll want to take a minute to review the different devices and their respective launch dates so that you'll know exactly when your Galaxy Watch will stop receiving updates.
Another group of users suffering a similar blow is anyone who owns an existing Fossil smartwatch such as the Fossil Gen 5E. While the fate of existing Fossil wearables was initially unclear, Google clarified that only Fossil's new generation of smartwatches would run Wear OS 3.
Anyone who bought a Fossil Gen 5E won't have the option to update to Wear OS 3.
With that said, the timeline isn't exactly set in stone. Rather than Wear OS 3 being available when the Fossil Gen 6 models launch later this year, the system update isn't expected to roll out until the mid to second half of 2022. The Gen 5 models and earlier aren't as fortunate. For example, anyone who bought a Fossil Gen 5E, which is less than a year old, won't have the option to update to Wear OS 3.
It's also worth noting that users with eligible devices will be able to decide whether or not they want to update their software. Google says it plans to offer more details ahead of the update so that users can make an informed decision. Considering the projected mid-to-late 2022 rollout, you'll have plenty of time to learn more about Wear OS 3 and determine if you want the update.
While most people might view this as a no-brainer decision, it's worth mentioning that you'll be required to reset your smartwatch to the way it was when you first got it. This is known as a factory reset, which means you'll be wiping your watch and starting from scratch.
Not everyone will be willing to perform a factory reset, which is partly why the system upgrade is being offered on an opt-in basis for eligible devices. Will you be updating your eligible smartwatch to Wear OS 3?
The first Wear OS 3 watch
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
A whole new experience
Considering that the first wearable to run Wear OS 3 is a Samsung watch, it'll be a unique experience for all. Whether you're a Wear OS regular looking for something new or you're accustomed to Tizen, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is your first chance to experience the merger in all its glory.
Wear OS 3 coming soon
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3
One of the lucky ones
The TicWatch Pro 3 is one of the lucky existing Wear OS watches that will be eligible for the system update. When you combine the new platform with the innovative dual-layer display, built-in GPS, Google Pay, and Google Assistant, you'll have the ultimate Wear OS experience.
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