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Your old Wear OS watch can, technically, update to the new Wear software

Old Wear OS smartwatches may still be capable of being updated to Google’s new Wear platform, according to a Qualcomm statement shared this week. The company says that smartwatches powered by the Snapdragon Wear 4100 and Wear 3100 platforms can support Google’s new software but declined to make any specific assurances beyond that of technical capability.

A Qualcomm spokesperson gave XDA Developers the following statement: “We are working with Google on bringing Wear OS 3.0 to Snapdragon Wear 4100+ and 4100 platforms. Snapdragon Wear 3100, 4100+ and 4100 platforms are capable of supporting Wear OS 3.0, but we are not discussing any specifics at this time.”

Echoing Qualcomm, a Google spokesperson gave the following statement to Digital Trends: “User experience is a top priority for us. We have not confirmed eligibility or timeline on whether any Wear OS smartwatch will update to the new unified platform. There are many technical requirements in order to run the unified platform that ensures all components of the user experience are optimized.”

Google announced its new version of Wear (dropping “OS” from the name) at Google I/O in May. The company teamed up with Samsung to combine their smartwatch efforts, bringing improvements in user experience areas ranging from performance and animations to battery life and more. Google also announced improved integration with Fitbit and new support for YouTube Music on this revamped platform.

When it comes to updates, Google and other companies making Wear watches have kept tight-lipped for the most part. Fossil has shared that its older Wear OS smartwatches will not be updating to Google’s new Wear, while Mobvoi has indicated that it has not been able to pin down a more precise timeline. A Mobvoi spokesperson shared with 9to5Google, “Mobvoi [is] a close partner of Google and [has] even received investment from them, but there hasn’t been any official confirmation on any update timings from Google as of yet.” As for Samsung, we may learn more about the company’s plans at virtual MWC, where it indicates it’ll be sharing its plans — Samsung has the biggest hurdle here, as its current lineup runs an entirely different operating system based on Tizen.

While the uncertainty does seem to be confusing, Fossil’s reticence to update its old smartwatches could end up clarifying where this would likely end. Qualcomm’s chips could technically support the new OS, but logistical reasons mean that it would not be worth the effort of getting all these older devices updated. And considering how slow and clunky the software can be on many current Wear OS offerings, it doesn’t bode well for taking on a full platform update.

Much of what Google is touting for the new Wear is hardware-focused. Fossil commented that the new Wear watches would have new chips that improve battery life and performance and offer LTE connectivity. With reviews of Snapdragon Wear 3100 devices noting how underpowered they are, it seems more likely that companies are ready to breathe a sigh of relief and move on anew.

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Michael Allison
A UK-based tech journalist for Digital Trends, helping keep track and make sense of the fast-paced world of tech with a…
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