There have not been very many details in regards to what will happen to the existing crop of Wear OS smartwatches after the new version is released. Samsung and Google are working together to bring the best features from Samsung’s software, while integrating with Google’s services for the next software version. But the problem remains that we may be seeing a case of “one hand not talking to the other” when it comes to Google and Qualcomm.
Late yesterday, Qualcomm seemingly confirmed that both the Snapdragon Wear 3100 and 4100 chipsets would be compatible with this new version of Wear OS. However, Google reached out to XDA Developers today stating 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.”
So basically we’re back at square one when it comes to knowing what, if any, currently available smartwatches will see the upgrade. This is especially concerning given that Mobvoi just launched the TicWatch E3, marking only the second Wear OS smartwatch to be released with the Snapdragon Wear 4100, after the TicWatch Pro 3. Fossil has already confirmed that its current lineup of smartwatches will not be receiving the update. And that’s pretty much the only other big OEM to provide any kind of statement one way or another.
We also know that Samsung and Fitbit’s next smartwatches will be powered by the new version of Wear OS, but that’s not really much of a surprise. Neither company relied on Qualcomm for the chipsets, as Samsung used its own Exynos processors, and Fitbit is now owned by Google.
The bigger problem here isn’t the fact that we don’t know exactly what this new version of Google’s wearable software will look like. It’s not even that we don’t know what current smartwatches will receive the update. Instead, the larger problem appears to be that Qualcomm and Google may not be on speaking terms at the moment, and that would spell bad news for everyone.
Rumors and reports have suggested that Samsung will be supplying, or at least fabbing, new Google-designed processors for the Pixel 6 and the fabled Pixel Watch. So we can assume that either Samsung will also use those chipsets, or will make its own Exynos processor, meanwhile, Fitbit will likely use whatever Google or Samsung makes. But what about the likes of Fossil or Mobvoi? Both of those companies rely on Qualcomm for its processors, so if there’s a line in the sand being drawn between the two, does that mean the rest of the market will have to go Google/Samsung or bust?
I’m really excited to see what’s in the pipeline for the next Galaxy Watch, along with hoping for a Pixel Watch to launch alongside a Pixel 6 Pro. But what’s going on has me feeling a little uneasy about the future of Wear OS smartwatches outside of Samsung and Fitbit.