Google Pixel Watch gets three years of updates, Samsung Galaxy Watch5 gets four

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Google’s Pixel Watch and Samsung’s Galaxy Watch5 may be based on the same Wear OS 3.x platform, but they don’t get the same level of software support. According to a very revealing The cable interview with Björn Kilburn, Google’s director of product management for Wear OS, the Pixel Watch is set to receive three years of software updates.

In return, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch5 gets four years. The explanation for the discrepancy is that, starting with Wear OS 3.x, Google is no longer responsible for updates to the wearables that Google does not make. Previous versions of Wear OS had all their updates from Google, and that sounded good in theory, but it didn’t really do anything for more timely releases in practice.

So with Wear OS 3 going forward, each smartwatch manufacturer is responsible for its own updates. Not only that, but also connectivity – previous Wear OS versions all used the same Wear OS by Google phone app to connect to the watches, but now each manufacturer has to develop their own app for pairing. That’s certainly not a problem for the likes of Samsung, who had smartwatches on other platforms before, but could prove a barrier to entry into the Wear OS ecosystem for smaller companies, or simply those unwilling to allocate a tons of resources for that sort of thing.

Google’s Kilburn says the company’s intention is to release a new version of Wear OS every year, with quarterly updates also coming to bring “new experiences” throughout the year between the major steps.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t clarify the odd situation where the Pixel Watch comes with the Fitbit Wear OS app but not Google Fit pre-installed, even though the latter is available for all Wear OS devices through the Play Store. Will one of these apps be folded into the other in a few months? We’d bet, given Google’s history, that’s pretty much a given. But at this point, there’s no official word on any of that.

If you have a smartwatch running Wear OS 2 and using the Snapdragon Wear 4100 or 4100+, you’re probably wondering what happened to Google’s promise to deliver the update to Wear OS 3 in 2022. Apparently that’s still the plan, so you should get it “later this year”.

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