What you need to know
- Wear OS 5, the upcoming software for Android smartwatches, could be released as soon as this year.
- The Wear OS 5 rollout could follow the same pattern as Wear OS 4, with the next-generation Galaxy Watches first receiving the update, followed by new Pixel Watches.
- The update is based on Android 14, and its release in 2024 could signal a yearly update schedule for Wear OS.
Wear OS 4 was just ushered in by Samsung and Google last year, debuting first on the Galaxy Watch 6 and 6 Classic. Later, the update came to the Pixel Watch 2, and we're still waiting for it to come to other smartwatches. But in the meantime, the two companies are already preparing a Wear OS 5 update that could appear as soon as this year, according to an exclusive report from 9to5Google.
9to5Google says it has seen references to Wear OS 5 in multiple locations of an unreleased Android 14 build. Samsung is likely preparing to release the upcoming Galaxy Watch 7 later this year and is apparently testing to ensure the Exynos 5535 powering the device supports the upcoming software, per the report. Over the past few years, Samsung and Google have worked together to create Wear OS updates, improving the quality overall.
The Galaxy Watch 7 series is expected to be released this summer, and if this report is accurate, that's when Wear OS 5 will be released as well. This tracks with the timeline of past Wear OS releases. For example, Wear OS 4 first appeared on the Galaxy Watch 6 series, then came to the Pixel Watch, and then to existing devices in 2023.
If the next Wear OS update is indeed released this year, it would mark an important milestone for Android smartwatches. Yearly upgrades to Wear OS aren't unheard of, but the past few years have seen it go from Wear OS 3 to 3.5 to 4, meaning a major number jump has happened every other year. And as the above report points out, the last three Wear OS versions are based on Android 9, 11, and 13.
Annual software updates for Wear OS would, for one, make it competitive with Apple's watchOS release schedule. More importantly, it would share a yearly release schedule with Android. Theoretically, this could allow Google and Samsung to integrate features between Android and Wear OS on a yearly basis.
With that being said, not much is known about the Wear OS 5 update or what might be included. The most recent Wear OS 4 update wasn't differentiated from Wear OS 3.5 in a meaningful way, so the hope is that Wear OS 5 feels fresh and arrives on more devices. However, an annual update interval could mean that Wear OS updates start to feel more iterative.
Classic style on a modern watch
The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is one of the best smartwatches you can buy, thanks to its snappy processor, access to apps like Spotify and WhatsApp, plenty of health and fitness sensors, and a physical rotating bezel for easy navigation.
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Brady is a tech journalist covering news at Android Central. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.