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Wear OS 5 wishlist: What I want to see and what we know so far

Find out what's in store for the Wear OS landscape.

Published onMay 15, 2024

The Sasmung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is one of the first two devices to have debuted Wear OS 4.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
The Wear OS landscape is gaining traction with more names in the field than ever, including Google’s own smartwatch line. We’re only a few months out from the next round of major Wear OS device launches (looking at you, Samsung), and I’m already eager to see what a potential Wear OS 5 launch might look like.

Wear OS 5: Features I want to see

A Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 displays the Wear OS start screen.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

If I could have my way, there are several improvements I’d want to see on the next Wear OS update. Some of these are long shots. Others are niche and picky, but they’re also very doable.

Fitbit for all

A Google Pixel Watch displays a user's Fitbit Active Zone Minutes.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

My most obvious ask for Wear OS 5 is that Google generously makes Fitbit features available to all Wear OS users. At this point, the Google/Fitbit conglomerate has run its course, and it is time to stop treating Fitbit’s ecosystem as a separate entity. Many Wear OS users beyond the Pixel Watch would benefit from the option to access Fitbit’s approachable fitness tracking tools and fantastic sleep platform. Health Connect was an okay stopgap, but anyone double-fisting a Fitbit and a Wear OS device should be able to move between their devices without losing data.

Novelty in general

The second very general ask is just for something new and exciting. Wear OS 4 brought some helpful improvements to users’ wrists but wasn’t terribly imaginative or novel. I’d love to see Wear OS 5 reinvigorate Apple’s biggest rival in the same way Wear OS 3 did back in 2021.

More useful quick settings

A user accesses the quick settings panel on their Samsung Galaxy Watch 6.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Though the Galaxy Watch series offers customizable quick settings, this feature isn’t consistent across all Wear OS devices, and it should be. The panel is much more usable when your own priorities are given prime locations. I also wish the quick setting menu could be accessed from other screens, not just the home screen.

Double Tap for Android users

Though at first I doubted its necessity, Double Tap is now a feature I rely on regularly when wearing my Apple Watch Ultra 2. The gesture control makes the smartwatch more accessible with just one hand free. This may sound lazy, but I want the same convenience on my Wear OS watches. Single-handed use is applicable in many more situations than I anticipated, and not just when my other one is clutched around an oversized to-go coffee.

Accessible assistance

A Google Pixel Watch 2 displays the Assistant tile.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The voice assistant landscape is shifting, and frankly, it’s an exciting feature to keep an eye on. Between added AI capabilities and on-device processing, smartwatches offer more powerful assistance than ever. Within the Wear OS 5 update, I hope to see the platform keep up with the competition by expanding and refining the user experience. (Will we see Gemini on the wrist?)

Meanwhile, as voice assistants become more complex, I also want to see Wear OS manage the user experience with intention. For example, Wear OS 5 should make simple queries manageable offline and locally so users don’t need to be connected to a phone.

Improved arrangements and modes (niche but needed)

Finally, there are a few subtle but significant UI tweaks that would improve the Wear OS 5 user experience. AA’s own Rita El Khoury points out that currently, not all watches change orientation when charging, leaving your time displayed wonky when using a sideways stand or charger. Likewise, Bedtime and Do Not Disturb modes are coupled unnecessarily. Wear OS 5 should introduce the option to sync your bedtime mode so the device switches to bedtime mode when you charge your phone at night, but DND is kept separate.

Will there be a Wear OS 5 beta?

Just like last year, I expect Samsung to release a Wear OS 5 beta version leading up to the software’s official launch. This allows users to provide feedback about bugs and shortcomings while also getting a sneak peek at the new software. During Google I/O 2024, the company rolled out a developer preview, outlining a few of the improvements. We will keep this hub updated once the beta program is made available.

Wear OS 5 expected release date and name

A Galaxy Watch 6, 6 Classic, and Pixel Watch 2 rest on a table.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
  • Wear OS 3: August 2021
  • Wear OS 3.5: August 2022
  • Wear OS 4: August 2023

There have already been some minor rumors about Wear OS 5 development based on Android 14, though I don’t expect the new software to arrive until August 2024. For the past three summers, new Wear OS builds have launched on Samsung’s Galaxy Watches. Wear OS 3 arrived in 2021 on the Galaxy Watch 4 series, and the 5 series launched with Wear OS 3.5 a year later. Then, in July 2023, shoppers were introduced to Wear OS 4 on the Galaxy Watch 6 Series.

We are most likely to see Wear OS 5 follow this same schedule and launch with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 7 this summer. It will likely be announced at Samsung’s summer unpacked event in mid to late July and hit shelves a few weeks later. Based on the past two years, Wear OS 5 will then be released in a more pure form on the Pixel Watch 3 in the fall.

Wear OS 5 rumored features

A TicWatch Pro 5 displays the Wear OS logo on screen.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

So far, rumors are sparse regarding what users can expect from Wear OS 5. Even if the new software lacks any showstopping updates, it’s safe to expect at least the same level of improvement users found in Wear OS 4. Wear OS 4 brought small but significant improvements to various Wear OS apps, added a few useful Google apps, and finally introduced backup and restore support.

During Google I/O 2024, a developer preview of the smartwatch OS was launched, followed by a few details about the OS. It appears one of the major points of focus for this upgrade was power efficiency. According to the firm, existing devices that run Wear OS 5 use 20% less battery than when they run Wear OS 4. And this is true regardless of what active tasks are being tracked, like running.

When Wear OS 5 becomes available, Health Services will support new data types for running, including Ground Contact Time, Stride Length, Vertical Oscillation, and Vertical Ratio. We’ll also see updates to apps like Health Connect and Health Services.

The last of the information to come out of Google I/O 2024 was focused on new features for Watch Face Format. This tool for building Wear OS watch faces is getting support for complications such as goal progress and weighted elements, weather, and forecasts. You can also expect to see new configuration presets called Flavors. Beginning in early 2025, all new watch faces published on Google Play will be required to use the Watch Face Format.

Wear OS 5 compatibility

A variety of Wear OS devices rest on a wooden table.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Wear OS rollouts haven’t been especially smooth in recent years. Many Wear OS 3 compatible devices took much longer than expected to receive the update. Likewise, Wear OS 4 hasn’t yet made its way to every watch, though all compatible older Galaxy Watches and the original Pixel Watch have received the update. I expect Wear OS 5 to follow a similar trajectory, launching on the Galaxy Watch 7 and Pixel Watch 3 and rolling back to older devices over time. It’s likely that any watch compatible with Wear OS 4, like the OnePlus Watch 2, for example, will also eventually receive a Wear OS 5 update.

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