Wear OS 3.5 is here: features, compatible watches and everything you need to know

Wear OS 3.5 is here: features, compatible watches and everything you need to know

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

Its debut was announced alongside the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro at Google's October 2022 event, where the Pixel Watch was showcased.

It's a significant update that could breathe new life into the operating system, if accepted by consumers and smartwatch makers.

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

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Wear OS 3 release date

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

At Google's October 2022 event, Wear OS 3.5 was announced alongside the Pixel Watch, showcasing Fit Bit features that enable many more fitness features than previously offered.

Wear OS 3 compatibility

Google Pixel Watch Handy Quick Setup

(Image credit: Future/Lance Ulanoff)

Although it's been available since 2021, there are currently very few smartwatches that actually run Wear OS 3. In fact, as of this writing, you can only get it on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, and the very expensive , Montblanc Summit 3.

No previously available smartwatch has received a software update to Wear OS 3, 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 all theoretically updated before the end of 2022.

Some of today's best smartwatches could also be upgraded, but no other devices have been confirmed yet.

We also expect new Wear OS 3 smartwatches to launch soon, including the Google Pixel Watch range and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5.

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, only the Montblanc Summit 3 includes iOS support; the Galaxy Watch 4 line doesn't, and neither the Pixel Watch nor the Galaxy Watch 5 line should do it alone.

Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro phones and Google Pixel Watch with green-blue background

Montblanc Summit 3 is a way to get Wear OS 3 (Image credit: Google / TechRadar)

Features of Wear OS 3

There's a lot to see in Wear OS 3.5, but it's worth noting that not all features will be available on all watches. Notably, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 lineup runs One UI Watch on top of Wear OS, which changes the look and feel and some aspects of the UI.

Below is an overview of standard Wear OS 3.5 features – features you can expect to find on the Pixel Watch and any other Wear OS 3.5 wearable that hasn't been heavily customized, like Samsung's current Galaxy Watch series. , where you might expect to find more variation.

faster and longer lasting

Google first partnered with Samsung to create Wear OS 3.5 (opens in a new tab), and the result is a combination of Wear OS 2 and Samsung's Tizen-based wearable operating system; with some new features added for good measure.

Key improvements from this collaboration include up to 30% faster app load times (than Wear OS 2) and better battery life. This latest improvement makes it more feasible to do things like run the heart rate monitor all day or track your sleep without needing to charge it first thing in the morning, every morning.

An improved interface

A graphic showing a tile in Wear OS 3

There are many more tiles available in Wear OS 3 (Image credit: Google)

Wear OS 3 also brings changes to the interface, and Google is focused on making it faster and easier to use your wearable device. Nobody wants to spend hours scrolling through menus on a watch's relatively small screen, so the focus is on shortcuts and gesture controls; plus the ability to use Tiles (essentially, mini widgets) to customize your watch's home screen carousel in more ways than ever before.

You'll also get quick access to smart home controls in Google Home and be able to quickly switch between apps in use with a new task switcher.

A custom overlay

A 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 Android, smartwatch makers can now do a similar trick with Wear OS, so the platform won't necessarily have the same behavior on every smartwatch.

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

One UI Watch, found in the Galaxy Watch 4 range, is an early example; it offers a number of Samsung apps and services in addition to Google's, and draws further parallels to Samsung's smartphone interface design.

New and improved Google apps

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

Fitness powered by Fitbit

A graph showing run tracking on a Wear OS 3 watch

(Image credit: Google)

Given that Google now owns Fitbit, it's no surprise that some of the latter company's experience has made its way to Wear OS 3. This includes features like wrist-based goal celebrations and various tools for tracking your health progress over the course of time. throughout the day

The exact fitness tracking capabilities will depend on the hardware your smartwatch offers; most, but not all, include GPS and heart rate monitors, for example, and there are also less common features like ECGs and blood oxygen monitors.

The best third-party apps

Logos for various applications available in Wear OS 3

(Image credit: Google)

Google is also pushing to improve third-party app support in a number of ways. On the one hand, the company makes it easy for developers to create great apps in the first place; with tools like a new tile API and skin layout editor.

On top of that, Google also aims to reward developers for high-quality apps, and penalize those that require little effort, by adjusting their search rankings on the Play Store.

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 basics you'd expect

Above, we detailed the ways that Wear OS 3.5 deviates from and improves on Wear OS 2, but also retains all the core features of that earlier platform, like notifications, timers, alarms, and more.