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Google warns that older watch faces won't work with Wear OS 5

Wear OS 5 is going all-in on the relatively new Watch Face Format.

Published onJuly 10, 2024

google pixel watch wear os watch face pixel watch 2 face i 2
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority
  • Old watch faces not designed with the Watch Face Format are not supported by Wear OS 5.
  • Users on older Wear OS builds can keep their existing watch faces for the time being.
  • Upgrading an older watch to Wear OS 5 will break compatibility with older faces.

Listen, change is hard. Whether that’s starting up at a new school, a new job, or in a new city, it’s only human to want to keep what you can of what’s familiar to you. But for Wear OS smartwatch users, change is coming whether you like it or not, and your older watch faces may end up left by the wayside.

Google announced Wear OS 5 back at Google I/O 2024 in May, and today we saw Samsung launch its Galaxy Watch 7, the first hardware we’re seeing arrive running the new software (with One UI Watch 6.0 on top). That won’t just be joined by other new smartwatches, but also by older devices receiving software updates over the months to come. And while Wear OS 5 promises to offer plenty to like, including privacy enhancements and performance improvements, it’s also going to break support for older watch faces.

The Watch Face Format (WFF) is Google’s new way of building watch faces for Wear OS, introduced over a year ago. The XML-based standard is supposed to be easier for creators to maintain long-term, but they have to actually adopt it in the first place. And if you’ve got a favorite older watch face that predates WFF, there’s a chance the creator may not get around to adapting it to the new format.

Today, Google warns smartwatch fans about losing access to old watch faces in Wear OS 5 (via 9to5Google). Those built with the earlier Jetpack Watch Face library can still be used with smartwatches running Wear OS 2, but Jetpack faces will no longer be discoverable when you pick up a new Wear OS 5 device. Upgrades will be vulnerable as well, and Google advises that not even attempting to restore an older backup will preserve access to these old, incompatible faces once a watch is updated to Wear OS 5.

The good news, as you can see in our video above, is that there are a lot of really nice WFF options, and the number is only getting bigger. Try to think of this less as “losing something old” than “getting some solid encouragement to try something new.” We’re sure you can find a more than satisfactory replacement.

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