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Wear OS 3.0 can run on older smartwatches after all (Updated: Google responds)

Update: Google has issued a vague statement about the new Wear OS update for existing smartwatches.

Published onJune 18, 2021

fossil gen 5 wear os logo 2
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
  • Qualcomm has said in a statement that the Snapdragon Wear 3100 supports Wear OS 3.0.
  • The chipmaker hasn’t confirmed which existing Wear OS wearables will get the update.
  • Google has issued a vague statement about the update timeline for existing Wear OS watches.

Update: June 18, 2021 (12:47 AM ET): After Qualcomm confirmed that older smartwatches with the Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset are capable of supporting the new Wear OS version, Google has issued a vague statement on the matter.

Reaching out to XDA Developers, a Google spokesperson said the following:

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

As we suspected, it may not be all that easy to port Wear OS 3.0 to older smartwatches. While Google isn’t saying it’s impossible, OEMs might not want to make all that effort to meet the technical requirements to update older wearables.

Original article: June 17, 2021 (12:44 AM ET): Qualcomm has confirmed that the new version of Wear OS developed by Google and Samsung can run on existing smartwatches with the Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset.

In a statement to XDA Developers, the chipmaker said, “We are working with Google on bringing Wear OS 3.0 to Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus and 4100 platforms. Snapdragon Wear 3100, 4100 Plus, and 4100 platforms are capable of supporting Wear OS 3.0, but we are not discussing any specifics at this time.”

This should ideally be good news for folks using older Wear OS smartwatches like the Suunto 7 or the Moto 360 (2019). However, Google or the OEMs still haven’t made it explicitly clear that older devices like these are eligible for the new Wear OS update.

Besides this, Fossil, the maker of some of the best Wear OS smartwatches, has already confirmed that its older models won’t get the new software. Instead, the company will launch a new premium smartwatch with the Google and Samsung-made OS.

Samsung too will not upgrade its older Galaxy Watches with Wear OS 3.0.

Related: The best Wear OS smartwatches you can buy right now

So even if Qualcomm has clarified that older hardware is not a problem for the new Wear OS, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see the software trickle down to existing devices with the Snapdragon Wear 3100 SoC. For that to happen, OEMs will have to work closely with Google and Qualcomm to build updates for their devices. The process can be long and require more effort than just rolling out newer devices with the refreshed software.

Google previously told 9to5Google that current Wear OS owners will have to until “later this year” to if they’ll get the new version.

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