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Google Wear OS 4: Features, release date, and more

Google's lastest software brings a host of improvements.
By

Published onFebruary 12, 2024

google pixel watch 2 color options

As the wearables market continues to heat up, Google launched Wear OS 4, the latest update to the company’s operating system. Android-based smartwatches eligible for the update can expect many improvements and a few new features. Read on to find out everything we know about the newest Wear OS and learn which watches can expect to see the update.

Wear OS 4: At a glance 

  • When is it coming out? Wear OS 4 debuted on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 series on August 11, 2023. Google's launched the platform on the  Google Pixel Watch 2 on October 4, 2023. It is now available on Galaxy Watch 4 and 5 series devices and the original Pixel Watch as well.
  • What's new? Wear OS 4 introduces a range of improvements and useful new features, including updates for favorite Google apps and popular third-party apps like Peloton. The software also finally adds a backup and restore feature for swapping phones.

Wear OS 4 release date

A variety of Wear OS devices rest on a wooden table.

Wear OS 4 formally debuted on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 series on July 26, 2023, but hit wrists on August 11. While Samsung was first to the punch, Google introduced its Wear OS 4 challenger in the form of the Pixel Watch 2 a few months later. It gave us our first look at the OS without Samsung’s One UI overlay. Since then, Wear OS 4 has also been made available on the Galaxy Watch 4 series and 5 series as well as on the original Pixel Watch.

Is there a Wear OS 4 beta?

Samsung released a beta version of the new software leading up to its release; however, now all relevant devices have access to the stable Wear OS 4.

Wear OS 4 features

google pixel watch 2 gold
Google Pixel Watch 2

From a convenience standpoint, the most exciting (and long overdue) Wear OS 4 feature is its backup and restore support. Users can finally swap to a new phone or watch without factory resetting their wearables. The update also adds apps for Gmail and Google Calendar, making it easier than ever to manage events and schedules and answer emails right from the wrist.

There are a few Pixel Watch-specific features, too. Google’s watches benefits from improved Fitbit integration. The platform now accepts voice queries through Google Assistant, allowing users to ask their watch about their health stats throughout the day. The Pixel Watch 2 also includes a new Safety Check feature. Like Pixel smartphones, the feature lets trusted contacts know your location at a scheduled time. If you cannot manually confirm your status, the watch will ping off your location automatically.

Meanwhile, Wear OS 4 brings improved integration within the Home app, including smart device controls and notifications. The platform also boasts a WhatsApp app, which rolled out to Wear OS 3 in the the summer of 2023. This app allows users to answer WhatsApp calls from their devices. Popular apps Spotify and Peloton also each issued app improvements within the platform.

Finally, when Google announced Wear OS 4, the company also promised more power efficiency and battery-saving performance. To this end, Samsung and Google teamed up to create Watch Face Format, making it easier for developers to create watch faces that drain less juice.

Wear OS 4 compatibility

A Galaxy Watch 4 user checks for software updates in the watch settings.

As of yet, the rollout schedule regarding the newest Wear OS isn’t entirely clear. Currently, the Galaxy Watch 4, 5, and 6 series devices and Google’s Pixel Watches 1 and 2 are the only watches running or eligible to update to the latest software.

Another device with the potential to see the update is Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 5, which arrived in May last year. Though we originally thought Fossil’s next family of Wear OS devices might also see the update, the company has since announced it is stepping away from the smartwatch market. To be frank, the Wear OS 3 rollout was a bit of a mess. Some promised devices still haven’t received the update more than two years later. We hope to see a smoother launch for Wear OS 4, but we’re skeptical.