Google has rebranded Android Wear — its operating system for wearable devices and smartwatches — to Wear OS, complete with a new logo. Judging by the company’s press release, Google hopes removing the Android name will help people better understand watches with Wear OS don’t just work with Android-based devices, and that they will work with iOS devices too.
However, it seems many people are already aware of this. According to Google’s own data, one in three new Wear OS watches also connected to an iPhone in 2017. It says the name change, “better reflects our technology, vision, and most important of all — the people who wear our watches.” How does Wear OS differ from Android Wear at the moment? Outside of the name change and the new logo, it doesn’t. There are no new features or alterations to the software at the moment.
New name, new look
The change in name has been accompanied with a brand new look that moves away from the Android look, and heavily towards Google’s branding. The new Wear OS is big, bright, and instantly familiar to anyone who’s seen Google’s own Material design.
Wear OS on your watch
The Android Wear app will also be updated on both Android and iOS to reflect the new name. Google says the updates will come over the next few weeks, and suggests watches are left on charge overnight while connected to Wi-Fi in order to receive the new software when it’s ready.
While nothing has changed with Wear OS yet, the rebrand could signal the start of a larger, long-term revamp of the platform and device ecosystem. Google hasn’t paid much attention to Android Wear recently, ignoring it during Google I/O last year, and failing to produce a benchmark smartwatch along the lines of its Pixel phones. It even removed Android Wear watches from the Play Store.
The rebrand of Android Wear is the latest in a string of high-profile rebranding exercises from Google, following the change from Android Pay to Google Pay last month. This brought several Google payment systems together under one name, simplifying the experience for everyone, and providing a single, unified name and app.
There are two key events taking place in the near future which may provide more detail on Google’s plan for Wear OS — the Baselworld watch show in Switzerland next week, and Google’s annual developer conference in May. If new hardware is part of the plan, we may have to wait for the public release of Android P and any new Pixel phones later in 2018 to learn more.
Updated on March 20: Added images of what the new Wear OS looks like.