Google’s Wear OS 3 update plans will leave most existing devices behind

Enlarge / A Put on OS watch.

Ron Amadeo

Google has offered a few more particulars about its upcoming Put on OS replace plans. As we have reported, Google and Samsung are teaming as much as resurrect the struggling Put on OS. Samsung is ditching Tizen watches and bringing its Exynos SoCs to the Put on OS platform, and Google will begin Put on OS improvement once more after largely ignoring the working system for the previous few years.

The submit on the official Put on OS boards is titled “What Put on OS 3 means for you,” and it describes what will probably be a rocky transition to the brand new OS. First, it is vital to notice that the submit is formally calling the revamped Put on OS “Put on OS 3,” a element Google has ignored of all its official statements to this point, choosing “unified platform,” “the brand new model of Put on OS,” or another clunky descriptor. It is model 3! This traces up with our rely; it is the primary main Put on OS replace since Put on OS 2 in 2018.

Subsequent, we get a listing of gadgets being up to date from Put on OS 2 to three. It isn’t lengthy:

Put on OS gadgets that will probably be eligible for improve embrace Mobvoi’s TicWatch Professional 3 GPS, TicWatch Professional 3 Mobile/LTE, TicWatch E3 and observe on TicWatch gadgets, in addition to Fossil Group’s new technology of gadgets launching later this yr.

These are all gadgets that use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Put on 4100 SoC. That checklist is definitely each Snapdragon Put on 4100 machine, together with a Fossil identify examine for what are presumably Put on 4100 gadgets that will probably be launched sooner or later. It is a clear signal that Google is not going to assist the older Snapdragon Put on 3100 with Put on OS 3.

The Put on 3100 makes up virtually all the present Put on OS gadgets, however it’s additionally appallingly sluggish. Qualcomm has traditionally been the one viable SoC vendor obtainable to Put on OS producers, however it additionally hasn’t cared about wearables a lot, and it just lately went six years with out enhancing the efficiency of its smartphone SoCs. From 2014 to 2020, the corporate shipped 28 nm, quad-core Cortex A7 CPUs below a number of completely different mannequin numbers. The end result has been the near-death of Put on OS as battery life and efficiency points piled up whereas competing Apple and Samsung gadgets received sooner yearly.

Qualcomm lastly broke its streak of delivery 2014-era chip know-how with the discharge of the Snapdragon Wear 4100, which was introduced in mid-2020. It is solely a low-end to mid-range 12 nm, Cortex A53 SoC that is not in any respect aggressive with Samsung or Apple, however it’s an enormous enchancment. The one remaining Put on OS distributors are trend manufacturers, although, they usually’re not all that involved with delivery the newest know-how, so uptake on the Put on 4100 has been practically non-existent. We really noticed a Put on 3100 machine launch simply final week: the $2,150 Tag Heuer Super Mario watch.

Dropping the Put on 3100 is an comprehensible determination. The chip is so sluggish that supporting it might imply limiting a whole lot of what Put on OS can do. As soon as the Qualcomm period is over, Put on OS can anticipate dependable efficiency enhancements with Samsung on the {hardware} helm. The brand new flagship Put on OS machine, the Galaxy Watch 4 (hopefully being introduced at Samsung’s August 11 occasion) is rumored to have a high-end, 5 nm Samsung Exynos SoC that can in all probability be many instances sooner than the 3100. For what it is value, Samsung is not updating any of its watches, both, as a change from Tizen to Put on OS can be too dramatic.

Put on OS 3 sounds dramatically completely different from model 2

We nonetheless have subsequent to no details about Put on OS 3, however there are just a few tidbits within the improve announcement indicating that issues will probably be very completely different. One line within the announcement lays out the requirement for a obligatory manufacturing facility reset for any Put on 4100 gadgets upgrading from Put on OS 2 to model 3. Put on OS 3 is outwardly so completely different that consumer information cannot be ported over, and all native information will have to be wiped. We have definitely heard Google and Samsung speak about how Put on OS 3 will mix the “better of Put on OS and Tizen,” indicating that even the bottom OS may be rebuilt.

Google additionally vaguely tells 4100 upgraders that “in some restricted circumstances, the consumer expertise may even be impacted.” Is that this a reference to the 4100 efficiency or the app choice and options in comparison with Put on OS 2? It is exhausting to say. As a result of Put on OS 3 will probably be so completely different, Google says it will not power the improve on 4100 customers:

We anticipate that for these causes, a few of you’ll desire to maintain your present Put on OS expertise. Subsequently, we’ll supply the system improve on an opt-in foundation for eligible gadgets. We’ll present extra particulars prematurely of the replace so you can also make an knowledgeable determination. We anticipate our companions to have the ability to roll out the system replace beginning in mid to second half of 2022.

The Samsung Watch with Put on OS 3 is predicted to ship someday in August 2021, so the accomplice time of “2H 2022″—probably a yr after Samsung’s launch—is surprisingly late. Android has sometimes been superb at letting companions get early entry to code, so (a minimum of those that care) might be prepared for launch, however this means Samsung is getting an enormous head begin. Google’s message that upcoming Fossil watches, launching later this yr, will probably be “eligible for improve” to Put on OS 3 additionally means that we’d see Put on OS 2 gadgets launch from different firms after Samsung launches Put on OS 3 subsequent month.

Samsung was all the time going to dominate the Put on OS 3 ecosystem as a result of it has unique entry to high-end Exynos wearables SoCs and would not appear eager about promoting them to 3rd events. Proof is piling up that Samsung will even have unique entry to Put on OS 3 for a while, although. We’re speculating right here, however a Google and Samsung team-up undoubtedly included many negotiations, and “one yr of unique entry to Put on OS 3” can be a pleasant, spherical quantity to incorporate in a deal. We do not actually know, although. There are nonetheless so many mysteries surrounding Put on OS, however we should always get extra solutions subsequent month.

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