Wear OS 3.5 is here: Features, supported watches, and everything you need to know

Wear OS 3.5 is here: Features, supported watches, and everything you need to know

Wear OS 3.5 is the biggest update to Wear OS smartwatches to date. In partnership with Samsung, it offers faster app load times, Fitbit-powered fitness tracking, a redesigned interface, and more.

It was announced that it would debut alongside the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro at a Google event in October 2022, where the Pixel Watch was shown.

It’s an important upgrade that could breathe new life into the operating system — if consumers and smartwatch makers embrace it.

Below you’ll find full details of everything Wear OS 3.5 has to offer, along with information on when, where, and how you can get it.

cut to chase

  • What is this? The latest version of the Google smartwatch operating system
  • When does it come out? Now – first for the Pixel watch, then for other wearables
  • How much does it cost? It’s free

Wear OS 3 release date

Wear OS 3 was announced at the Google I/O Developers Conference in May 2021, and became available for the first time in August 2021.

At a Google event in October 2022, Wear OS 3.5 was announced alongside the Pixel Watch, showing off features from Fit Bit that enable far more fitness features than previously offered.

Compatibility with Wear OS 3

(Photo credit: Future/Lance Ulanoff)

Although it has been available since 2021, there are currently very few smartwatches that actually run Wear OS 3. In fact, at the time of writing, you can only get it on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic and – very expensive – Montblanc pinnacle 3.

None of the previously available smartwatches received a Wear OS 3 update, but some will; With Fossil Gen 6, Michael Kors Gen 6, Skagen Falster Gen 6, Razer X Fossil Gen 6, TicWatch Pro 3, TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra and TicWatch E3 theoretically updated before the end of 2022.

Some of the current crop of best smartwatches may be updated as well, but no other devices have been confirmed yet.

We also expect to launch new smartwatches running Wear OS 3 before too long, including the Google Pixel Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 line.

Note that to use a Wear OS 3 watch, you also need a compatible operating system on your phone. In theory, it works with both iOS and Android, but at the time of writing Montblanc Summit 3 only includes iOS support – the Galaxy Watch 4 line doesn’t work, and neither the Pixel Watch nor the Galaxy Watch 5 line is expected to.

Google Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro and Google Pixel Watch phones on a green - blue background

Montblanc summit 3 This is one way to get Wear OS 3 (Image credit: Google/TechRadar)

Wear OS 3 ميزات features

There’s a lot to see in Wear OS 3.5, but it’s worth noting that not every feature will be available on every watch. Notably, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 line runs One UI Watch on top of Wear OS, which changes the look and some aspects of the user interface.

Below you’ll find a selection of Wear OS 3.5 stock features – functions you can expect to find in the Pixel Watch and any other Wear OS 3.5 wearable that isn’t widely customized, like Samsung’s current Galaxy Watch series, where you can expect to find more of difference.

Faster and Longer

Google has partnered with Samsung to create Wear OS 3.5 (Opens in a new tab), the result is a combination of Wear OS 2 and Samsung’s Tizen-based wearable operating system; With some new features that have been nicely dropped.

Key improvements that resulted from this collaboration include app load times up to 30% faster (than Wear OS 2) and improved battery life. This latest improvement makes doing things more viable like running your heart rate monitor all day or tracking your sleep without having to charge it first thing in the morning, every morning.

upgraded interface

Graphic showing tile on Wear OS 3

More tiles available on Wear OS 3 (Image credit: Google)

Wear OS 3 is also bringing changes to the interface, with Google focusing on making the wearable device faster and easier to operate. Nobody wants to spend ages scrolling through menus on the relatively small watch screen, so there’s an emphasis on shortcuts and gesture controls; Along with being able to use Tiles (essentially, widgets) to customize your watch’s home screen display in more ways than before.

You’ll also have quick access to your Google Home smart home controls and be able to quickly switch between apps in use with the new task switcher.

Custom Overlay

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic on someone's wrist

Samsung uses its own interface with Wear OS 3 (Image credit: Future)

Just as Android smartphone makers can add a custom interface on top of stock Android, smartwatch makers can now use a similar trick with Wear OS, so the platform won’t necessarily look or act the same on every smartwatch.

This should give buyers more options and more opportunities to find an interface and features they really like.

One UI Watch, found in the Galaxy Watch 4 line, is an early example of this; It offers a number of Samsung apps and services in addition to Google services, and it draws more similarities with Samsung’s smartphone interface design.

New and improved Google apps

Google took this opportunity to redesign and improve Google Assistant and Google Maps, as well as add support for more countries in Google Pay (soon to be replaced by the return of Google Wallet) and bring YouTube Music to your wrist.

Fitness Powered by Fitbit

Graphic showing running tracking on a Wear OS 3 watch

(Image credit: Google)

Since Google now owns Fitbit, it’s no surprise that some of the company’s recent expertise has made it into Wear OS 3. This includes features like goal celebrations on the wrist and various tools to track your health progress throughout the day.

Accurate fitness tracking capabilities will depend on the hardware your smartwatch offers – but not all include GPS and heart rate monitors – hence less common features, such as ECGs and blood oxygen monitors.

The best third-party apps

Logos for various apps available on Wear OS 3

(Image credit: Google)

Google is also pushing for better third-party app support in several ways. First, the company makes it easier for developers to create great apps in the first place; Using tools like the new Tiles API and a watch face design editor.

On top of that, Google also aims to reward developers for high-quality apps – and penalize low-effort ones – by adjusting the Play Store’s search ranking.

Google has guidelines for what good Wear OS apps should do, like making sure they’re formatted for square and circular screens, have clear, easy-to-read text, and make the app work without a smartphone or tablet.

All the smartwatch essentials you’d expect

Above, we’ve detailed the ways that Wear OS 3.5 deviates and improves on Wear OS 2, but it also retains all the core functions of the previous platform, such as notifications, timers, alarms, and more.

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