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Wear OS
Wear OS logo.svg
Wear OS by Google typeface.svg
The Moto 360 smartwatch
Developer Google
Written in C (core), C++, Java[1]
OS family Android
Working state Current
Source model Open source with closed source components[2]
Initial release March 18, 2014; 4 years ago (2014-03-18)
Latest release 2.9
Marketing target Smartwatches, other wearables
Available in Multi-lingual
Platforms 32-bit ARM, MIPS, x86
Kernel type Monolithic (modified Linux kernel)
Userland Bionic libc,[3] shell from NetBSD,[4] native core utilities with a few from NetBSD[5]
Default user interface Graphical (Multi-touch)
License Developer Preview: proprietary[6]
Apache License 2.0
Linux kernel patches under GNU GPL v2[7]
Official website

Wear OS,[8] previously known as Android Wear, is a version of Google's Android operating system designed for smartwatches and other wearables.[9][10] By pairing with mobile phones running Android version 4.3 or newer, or iOS version 8.2 or newer with limited support from Google's pairing application,[11] Wear OS integrates Google Assistant[12] technology and mobile notifications into a smartwatch form factor. It also adds the ability to download applications from the Google Play Store.

Wear OS supports Bluetooth, Wi-Fi,[13] 3G and LTE connectivity, as well as a range of features and applications. Watch face styles include round, square and rectangular. Released devices include Motorola Moto 360,[14] the LG G Watch,[15] and the Samsung Gear Live.[16] Hardware manufacturing partners include Asus, Broadcom, Fossil, HTC, Intel, LG, MediaTek, Imagination Technologies, Motorola, New Balance, Qualcomm, Samsung, Huawei, Polar and TAG Heuer.[17]

In the first six months of availability, Canalys estimates that over 720,000 Android Wear smartwatches were shipped.[18] As of 15 March 2018, Wear OS had between 10 and 50 million application installations.[19] Wear OS was estimated to account for 10% of the smart watch market in 2015.[20]

History and Compatibility[edit]

Logo for Android Wear, the previous name of the operating system

The platform was announced on March 18, 2014, along with the release of a developer preview. At the same time, companies such as Motorola, Samsung, LG, HTC and Asus were announced as partners.[21] On June 25, 2014, at Google I/O, the Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch were launched, along with further details about Android Wear. The LG G Watch is the first Android Wear smartwatch to be released and shipped. Motorola's Moto 360 was released on September 5, 2014.

On December 10, 2014, an update started to roll out, adding new features including a watch face API and changed the software to be based on Android 5.0 "Lollipop".[22]

The LG G Watch and Gear Live started shipping in July 2014, while the Moto 360 began shipping in September 2014. The next batch of Android Wear devices, which arrived at the end of 2014, included the Asus ZenWatch,[23] the Sony SmartWatch 3,[24] and the LG G Watch R.[25] As of March 2015, the latest Wear OS devices are the LG Watch Urbane,[26] and the Huawei Watch.[27]

On August 31, 2015, Google launched pairing application for iOS version 8.2 or newer, allowing limited support for receiving iOS notifications on smartwatches running Wear OS.[28] As of September 2015, only the LG Watch Urbane and Huawei Watch are supported, but Google announced support for more smartwatch models.[11][29]


Options include a screen always on feature and a "tilt to wake screen" setting,[30] to light the screen automatically.[31]

Users can find directions by voice from the phone, choose transport mode, including bike, and start a journey. While traveling, the watch shows directions, and vibrates to indicate turns by feel.[32]

Via Google Fit and similar applications, Wear OS supports ride and run tracking ("OK Google, start a run"). On devices sporting the needed sensor, heart activity can be sampled automatically through the day or on demand ("OK Google, what's my heart rate"). Step-counting, calorie expenditure etc. are also monitored. These features work within the Fit ecosystem, allowing integration with companion devices and applications. The watch reinforces achievements with cards noting goal attainment, when a goal is near, summaries of heart, and body activity.[33]

Users can use their Wear OS watch to control their phone. Music can be requested (for instance, "OK Google, play Deep Purple"). The screen then shows a card for play-control, volume, skip, media images, allowing music to be controlled from the wrist with the user free to move.[32]


The vibration engine alerts users about important notifications originating from a user-selectable set of applications. Wear OS provides multiple options for replying, including Google Voice Typing for dictating responses to messages, and spoken or drawn emoticons.

Intelligent notifications from Google Now are supported including traffic, flights, hotel check-in, meeting alerts, location- and time-based reminders, weather and sport, stocks, flight status, boarding passes, restaurant bookings, etc.[32]

Users can receive messages sent to them via Google Hangouts, and respond with a voice message.[34] Users can also set the alarm by using 'Okay Google' on Wear OS. Currently new SMS can be initiated from the watch. Wear OS 5.1.1 supports drawing to reply, which uses AI to interpret the user's sketch as an emoji character. Search by voice is fully supported. Google Now searches such as "How tall is Nicole Kidman" result in Knowledge Graph cards appearing on screen, with options to open the search result on another device.[22]

If the phone's camera app is activated, the screen is relayed to the watch, and the user can control the shutter, and view photos on the watch. Third-party applications support using the phone camera as a streaming device, or more varied camera control.

Events appear as cards on screen. "OK Google, show my agenda" will display the user's agenda. Watch faces also support marking out appointments (for instance with contrasting color to show periods with an appointment, and/or illuminating a lighted "count-down" line for upcoming appointments.[32]

Note taking is fully supported via Google Keep and other note-apps, as is marking-off check lists etc. Via voice commands such as "OK Google, remind me to call Roy at work", or "Remind me to baste the chicken in 25 minutes" the user can create location and time-based reminders, set alarms, timers etc. which appear on the watch at the appropriate time or place.[10]

Many applications have been released, with developers such as Evernote etc. creating new functionality on the watch: for instance, handing off notes to the watch screen when the user turns off their phone screen. Location-based applications like Foursquare show suitable nearby venues, allow check-in etc.

Version history[edit]

Version Android base version Release date New features Notes
4.4W1 4.4 June 2014
  • Initial release
Announced on Google I/O 2014
4.4W2 4.4 October 2014
  • Offline music playback over bluetooth [35]
  • Watch GPS support (for watches with built-in GPS)[36]
  • New music control UI [37]
1.0[38] 5.0.1 December 2014
  • Official watch face API
  • Sunlight mode (brightness boost)
  • Theater mode
  • Settings shade from top
  • Battery stats in Android Wear app
  • Recently used actions added to the top in drawer
  • Ability to undo dismissed notification
This version changed the numbering scheme to be independent from the base Android version
1.1[39] 5.1.1 May 2015
  • Wi-Fi support (for watches with built-in Wi-Fi)
  • Drawable Emojis (as response to messages)
  • Heads up notifications
  • Pattern lock screen
  • Ability to change font size
  • Add swipe left from watch face to access app drawer
  • Always on apps
  • More wrist gestures
1.3[40] 5.1.1 August 2015
  • Interactive watch faces
  • Google Translate for Wear
1.4[41] 6.0.1 February 2016
  • More wrist gestures
  • Speaker support (for watches with built-in speaker)
  • Send voice messages directly from the watch
1.5[42] 6.0.1 June 2016
  • Brought back restart watch option
  • Added Android security patch level to About screen
2.0[43] 7.1.1 Feb 2017[44]
  • Revamped UI with Material Design, darker colors, and a more circular user interface for round watches.
  • Standalone apps with Google Play Store on watch
  • Complications for watch faces
  • Built-in keyboard
  • Handwriting recognition
  • Stackable notifications
  • Smarter notifications
  • Cellular Support


Announced at Google I/O 2016
2.6[46] 7.1.1 Nov 2017
  • Text size of notifications adapts to message length
  • New download progress indicator
  • New complication for launching previously-used app
2.6[47] 7.1.1/8.0.0 Dec 2017
  • Touch lock
  • Configurable notification vibration
  • Added languages
2.7[48] 7.1.1/8.0.0 Dec 2017
  • Improved typefaces and font weights
  • Complications now work with Talkback
  • Text size of notifications adapts to message length
  • Swipe down in Quick Settings to see connection type (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or mobile)
  • Download progress notifications
  • Recent App complication
  • Better prevention of accidental side-swipe and long-press gestures
2.8[49] 7.1.1/8.0.0 Jan 2018
  • Improved notification glanceability with a new layout which shows more of the user's message at a glance
  • Darker background for better readability and less battery usage
2.9[50] 7.1.1/8.0.0 Feb 2018
  • New notification preview complication which allows you to preview messages
  • Improved glanceability in notification cards with longer titles

List of Wear OS devices[edit]

Brand Name Date Released Latest Wear OS Version RRP Notes
Asus ZenWatch November 9, 2014 1.5[51]
ZenWatch 2 September, 2015 2.0[52]
ZenWatch 3 November, 2016 2.7[53] $229
Casio Smart Outdoor Watch WSD-F10 March 25, 2016 2.6[54] $500 [55]
Smart Outdoor Watch WSD-F20 April 21, 2017 2.6[56] $500 [57]
Elephone Ele 2.0[58] $125
Fossil Q Explorist August 28, 2017 2.8[59] $255-$275 [60][61]
Q Founder 2.6[62]
Q Marshal March 15, 2016 2.7 $255 [63]
Q Venture August 28, 2017 2.9[64] $255-$275 [65]
Q Wander March 15, 2016 2.6[66] [63]
Huawei Watch September 2, 2015 2.9[67]
Watch 2 April 18 2017 2.10[68] $299-$400
Watch 2 Classic April 18 2017 2.9[69]
LG G Watch June 25, 2014 1.5[70]
G Watch R October 24, 2014 2.9
Watch Urbane April 27, 2015 2.9[71]
Watch Urbane 2nd Edition 2.0[72]
Watch Sport Feb 9, 2017 2.6[73] $349.99
Watch Style Feb 9, 2017 2.6[74] $249.99
Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon 2.6[75]
Michael Kors Access 2.6[76] [77]
Misfit Vapor 2.6[78]
Mobvoi Ticwatch S & E 2.9[79] $159.99 (E)
Montblanc Summit 2.6[80]
Motorola Moto 360 (1st generation) September 5, 2014 1.5[81]
Moto 360 (2nd generation) September 14, 2015 2.9
Moto Sport 2.9[82]
Nixon Mission 2.6[83]
New Balance RunIQ Watch 2.0[84] [85]
Polar M600 2.6[86]
Samsung Gear Live June 25, 2014 1.5[87]
Sony SmartWatch 3 November 2014 1.5[88]
Tag Heuer Connected 2.0[89]
Connected Modular 45 2.6[90]
Verizon Wear24 2.0[91]
ZTE Quartz 2.6[92]

Coming Soon[edit]

  • Movado Connect[93]
  • Hugo Boss with the Touch
  • Tommy Hilfiger 24/7 You[94]
  • Diesel On
  • Guess Connect[95]
  • Hugo BOSS BOSS Touch[96]
  • Movado Connect[97]
  • Gc Connect[98]
  • Michael Kors Access Bradshaw[99]
  • Michael Kors Access Dylan[100]
  • Michael Kors Access Grayson[101]
  • Diesel Full Guard[102]
  • Emporio Armani Connected[103]
  • Fossil Q Control[104]

See also[edit]


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  7. ^ "Licenses". Android Open Source Project. Open Handset Alliance. Retrieved 2012-09-09. The preferred license for the Android Open Source Project is the Apache Software License, 2.0. ... Why Apache Software License? ... For userspace (that is, non-kernel) software, we do in fact prefer ASL2.0 (and similar licenses like BSD, MIT, etc.) over other licenses such as LGPL. Android is about freedom and choice. The purpose of Android is promote openness in the mobile world, but we don't believe it's possible to predict or dictate all the uses to which people will want to put our software. So, while we encourage everyone to make devices that are open and modifiable, we don't believe it is our place to force them to do so. Using LGPL libraries would often force them to do so. 
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  19. ^ LLC, Google (2018-03-15), Wear OS by Google Smartwatch (was Android Wear), Google LLC, retrieved 2018-03-19 
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  23. ^ "Phones - ASUS ZenWatch (WI500Q) - ASUS". 
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  29. ^ "SmartWatchCrunch". 
  30. ^ Android Wear tips and tricks: The ultimate guide
  31. ^ 'Tilt to wake screen' Setting
  32. ^ a b c d "Android Wear software review: Smartwatch software that doesn't suck". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2015-12-22. 
  33. ^ "Google Fit to curate steps, calories, heart rate, other biometric data". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2015-12-22. 
  34. ^ "Android Wear Takes Industry Leading Smartphone Software to the Next Level". Retrieved 10 May 2016. 
  35. ^ "[Android Wear 4.4W2 Feature Spotlight] This Is Offline Music Playback Over Bluetooth In Android Wear Using Play Music". Android Police. 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2016-12-20. 
  36. ^ "GPS on Android Wear Devices". Retrieved 2016-12-20. 
  37. ^ "[Android Wear 4.4W2 Feature Spotlight] Here Is The New Music Control UI For Wear, Now Including Volume Buttons". Android Police. 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2016-12-20. 
  38. ^ "Android Wear's massive update: Official watch face API, new display modes, app features and more!". Android Central. 2014-12-10. Retrieved 2016-12-20. 
  39. ^ "Google Groups". Retrieved 2016-12-20. 
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  42. ^ Li, Abner (2016-06-06). "Android Wear 1.5 rolling out to the Gear Live with some minor changes [Update: more watches]". 9to5Google. Retrieved 2016-12-20. 
  43. ^ Statt, Nick (2016-05-18). "Google announces Android Wear 2.0 with standalone app support and tiny keyboard". The Verge. Retrieved 2016-05-18. 
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  45. ^ "Android Wear 2.0 is a major overhaul of Google's smartwatch OS". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2016-05-18. 
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  48. ^ "Android Wear 2.7 update". 
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