Wear OS (previously known as Android Wear) is a version of Google
's Android operating system
designed for smartwatch
es and other wearables
By pairing with mobile phone
s running Android version 6.0 or newer, or iOS
version 10.0 or newer with limited support from Google's pairing application,
Wear OS integrates Google Assistant
technology and mobile notifications into a smartwatch form factor.
Wear OS supports Bluetooth
, 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
, Imagination Technologies
, New Balance
, TAG Heuer
, and Mobvoi
In the first six months of availability, Canalys estimates that over 720,000 Android Wear smartwatches were shipped. , Wear OS had between 10 and 50 million application installations. Wear OS was estimated to account for 10% of the smartwatch market in 2015.
In December 2017, Google started to roll out a major Wear OS update based on Android 8.0 Oreo bringing new features before rebranding it to Wear OS.
In November 2018, Google rolled out a major update to its Wear OS system called H-MR1 bringing Android 9 Pie to smartwatches and multiple new features like Tiles.
In 2019, Google decided to step back into wearables by buying Fossil some techs and then go further more by acquiring Fitbit by the end of 2020. Working closely with Fitbit
, Google promised to bring the best AI, software and hardware so far since the launch of its wearable OS including its own wearables.
In September 2020, Google rolled out a new Wear OS update called H-MR2 boosting performances with both system and software improvements.
Google also announced a major upcoming update supposed to update the core of Wear OS to Android 11 sometime in 2021 bringing new features, improvements and newer APIs to the platform.
History and compatibility
The platform was announced on March 18, 2014, along with the release of a developer preview. At the same time, companies such as Motorola
were announced as partners. 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"
The LG G Watch
and Samsung Gear Live
started shipping in July 2014, while the Motorola Moto 360
, began shipping in September 2014. The next batch of Android Wear devices, which arrived at the end of 2014, included the Asus ZenWatch
, the Sony SmartWatch 3
, and the LG G Watch R
. , the latest Wear OS devices are the LG Watch Urbane
, and the Huawei Watch
On August 31, 2015, Google launched pairing application for iOS version 8.2 or newer, allowing limited support for receiving iOS notifications on smartwatches running Wear OS. , only the LG Watch Urbane and Huawei Watch are supported, but Google announced support for more smartwatch models.
As of 2020, Wear OS has no support from Google help center and the only way to submit current problems of the software is via feedback. Several smartwatch models presently suffer from the incapability to send WhatsApp
messages, whereas it was advertised as a capability of the system.
Options include a screen always on feature and a "tilt to wake screen" setting, to light the screen automatically.
Users can find directions by voice from the phone, choose transport mode, including bike, and start a journey. While traveling, the watch shows directions, and vibrates to indicate turns by feel.
Via Google Fit
and similar applications, Wear OS supports ride and run tracking ("OK Google
, start a run"). On devices sporting the needed sensor, heart activity can be sampled automatically through the day or on demand ("OK Google, what's my heart rate"). Step-counting, calorie expenditure etc. are also monitored. These features work within the Fit ecosystem, allowing integration with companion devices and applications. The watch reinforces achievements with cards noting goal attainment, when a goal is near, summaries of heart, and body activity.
Users can use their Wear OS watch to control their phone. Music can be requested (for instance, "OK Google, play Deep Purple
"). The screen then shows a card for play-control, volume, skip, media images, allowing music to be controlled from the wrist with the user free to move.
Starting with version 2.16 users can swipe right to bring up an Assistant page with useful information similar to the Android Assistant on phones, or swipe left to display Google Fit information. This replaces the old functionality of swiping left or right to change the watch face.
The vibration engine alerts users about important notifications originating from a user-selectable set of applications. Wear OS provides multiple options for replying, including Google Voice Typing for dictating responses to messages, and spoken or drawn emoticons.
Intelligent notifications from Google Now are supported including traffic, flights, hotel check-in, meeting alerts, location- and time-based reminders, weather and sport, stocks, flight status, boarding passes, restaurant bookings, etc.
Users can receive messages sent to them via Google Hangouts
, and respond with a voice message.
Users can also set the alarm by using 'Okay Google' on Wear OS. Currently new SMS
can be initiated from the watch. Wear OS 5.1.1 supports drawing to reply, which uses AI to interpret the user's sketch as an emoji character. Search by voice is fully supported. Google Now
searches such as "How tall is Nicole Kidman
" result in cards
appearing on screen, with options to open the search result on another device.
If the phone's camera app is activated, the screen is relayed to the watch, and the user can control the shutter, and view photos on the watch. Third-party applications support using the phone camera as a streaming device, or more varied camera control.
Events appear as cards on screen. "OK Google, show my agenda" will display the user's agenda. Watch faces also support marking out appointments (for instance with contrasting color to show periods with an appointment, and/or illuminating a lighted "count-down" line for upcoming appointments.
Note taking is fully supported via Google Keep
and other note-apps, as is marking-off check lists etc. Via voice commands such as "OK Google, remind me to call Roy at work", or "Remind me to baste the chicken in 25 minutes" the user can create location and time-based reminders, set alarms, timers etc. which appear on the watch at the appropriate time or place.
Many applications have been released, with developers such as Evernote
etc. creating new functionality on the watch: for instance, handing off notes to the watch screen when the user turns off their phone screen. Location-based applications
show suitable nearby venues, allow check-in etc.
* List of Wear OS devices
* Android Auto
* Android TV
* Google Glass
Category:Products introduced in 2014
Category:Google operating systems