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Google Pixel Watch — what it could mean for Wear OS 3 smartwatches

Fossil Wear OS smartwatch with Google Assistant
(Image credit: Future)

Update: Qualcomm just teased the potential CPU for the Google Pixel Watch

While rumors certainly suggest a Google Pixel Watch could be announced as soon as this week, there’s another smartwatch announcement I’m curious if we'll hear during Google I/O 2022.

Google will likely dedicate a portion of its annual developer conference keynote to Wear OS (or simply, Wear) smartwatch software. Last year, the software received a significant overhaul thanks to a kind-of merger with Samsung’s Tizen, which we saw materialize on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.

But no other smartwatch on the market is running the unified Wear platform as of this writing. Yet, there are a number of eligible Wear OS 3 smartwatches out there — any model running the Snapdragon Wear 4100 chipset supports the latest software version. 

The Fossil Gen 6, Skagen Gen 6, Mobvoi's TicWatch Pro 3 and the TicWatch E3 are the current list of Wear OS 3-eligible devices. Not a very large selection, I know… but that could change soon.

What I’ve heard from third-party smartwatch makers is that it’s up to Google when these smartwatches will be able to upgrade to Wear OS 3. I think it seems convenient to set an official upgrade date for those devices while announcing the other new Wear features slated for this year during I/O on Wednesday, May 11. (You can watch the Google I/O 2022 live stream starting at 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday.)

The last time Google shared Wear eligibility news was in November 2021, and at that point the company said the widespread rollout would take place this year, which we’re now almost halfway through. 

When considering the best smartwatches for Android, I’d like to see more options with the latest chipset and software. The previous version of Wear OS suffered several bugs and paled compared to software on the best smartwatches from Apple, Garmin and Fitbit. 

It’s difficult to know just what a smartwatch is capable of until I see it with the most up-to-date software. For example, at least half my reception of the yet-to-be-announced Apple Watch 8 will come from watchOS 9

It's possible Google has waited to roll out Wear OS 3 to third-party smartwatches, having its own wearable hardware approaching launch. There have been many Pixel Watch rumors in recent weeks speculating an I/O-timed reveal alongside the Google Pixel 6a.

I'm not confident that we'll see devices at I/O this week. I could be wrong, but sticking to Android 13 and other software news seems more sensible for a developer conference. That said, Google could tease the Pixel Watch while presenting Wear OS upgrades, including an official date for Wear OS 3 to arrive on more smartwatches. 

Be sure to follow our Google I/O coverage to see whether there's good news ahead for third-party Wear OS 3-eligible smartwatches.

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account (opens in new tab), which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.