Wear OS

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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
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 2.23 / December 2020; 5 months 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 interfaceGraphical (Multi-touch)
LicenseApache License 2.0, Linux kernel patches under GPLv2[6]
Official websitewearos.google.com

Wear OS (previously known as Android Wear) is a version of Google's Android operating system designed for smartwatches and other wearables.[7][8][9] 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,[10] Wear OS integrates Google Assistant[11] technology and mobile notifications into a smartwatch form factor.

Wear OS supports Bluetooth, Wi-Fi,[12] 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.[13]

In the first six months of availability, Canalys estimates that over 720,000 Android Wear smartwatches were shipped.[14] As of 15 March 2018, Wear OS had between 10 and 50 million application installations.[15] Wear OS was estimated to account for 10% of the smartwatch market in 2015.[16]

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[edit]

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.[17] 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".[18]

The LG G Watch[19] and Samsung Gear Live[20] started shipping in July 2014, while the Motorola Moto 360,[21] began shipping in September 2014. The next batch of Android Wear devices, which arrived at the end of 2014, included the Asus ZenWatch,[22] the Sony SmartWatch 3,[23] and the LG G Watch R.[24] As of March 2015, the latest Wear OS devices are the LG Watch Urbane,[25] and the Huawei Watch.[26]

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.[27] As of September 2015, only the LG Watch Urbane and Huawei Watch are supported, but Google announced support for more smartwatch models.[10][28]

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.[29]


Options include a screen always on feature and a "tilt to wake screen" setting,[30] to light the screen automatically.[31]

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.[32]

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.[33]

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.[32]

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.[34]


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.[32]

Users can receive messages sent to them via Google Hangouts, and respond with a voice message.[35] 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.[18]

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.[32]

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.[9]

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 like Foursquare show suitable nearby venues, allow check-in etc.

Version history[edit]

Android Wear[edit]

Android Wear version Android OS versions 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 [36]
  • Watch GPS support (for watches with built-in GPS)[37]
  • New music control UI [38]
1.0 (5.0.1W)[39] 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)[40] 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)[41] 5.1.1 August 2015
  • Interactive watch faces
  • Google Translate for Wear
1.4 (6.0.1W1)[42] 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)[43] 6.0.1 June 2016
  • Brought back restart watch option
  • Added Android security patch level to About screen
2.0 (7.1.1W1)[44] 7.1.1 Feb 2017[45]
  • 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


2.6 (7.1.1W2)[47] 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)[48] 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)[49] 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)[50] 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)[51] 8.0 Feb 2018
  • New notification preview complication which allows you to preview messages
  • Improved glanceability in notification cards with longer titles

Wear OS[edit]

Wear OS version System versions Release date New features Notes
1.0[52] Android 8 Oreo March 2018
  • Rebranding to Wear OS[53]
  • Expand Google Pay Support in more countries
Version number reset to "1.0".

Wear OS App version: 2.10[54]

1.4 Android 8 Oreo July 2018
  • Faster Google Pay startup
  • More glanceable design for events and appointments
  • Time zone sync bug fix[55]
Wear OS App version: 2.14[56]
2.0 Android 8 Oreo September 2018
  • Swipe actions for faster access to Google Assistant and Google Fit[57]
  • 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.[58]
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:[59][60]
  • 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
Upcoming Android 11 Spring 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 also[edit]


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External links[edit]