Wear OS 4 confirmed at Google I/O — the biggest upgrades coming to your Android watch

Google Pixel Watch
(Image credit: Future)

Google just confirmed that Wear OS 4 in the works, meaning a software overhaul will be coming to current and future Android watches later this year.

The wearable software refresh was announced as part of Google I/O 2023, aptly shared with developers in attendance. Google is launching the developer preview and emulator for Wear OS 4 as part of the annual conference, so that app makers can begin tailoring their products to the updated Wear OS experience.

Compared to Wear OS 3, Wear OS 4 promises to deliver improved battery life, restore support and new watch face tools. It will also have better accessibility features, with a new text-to-speech engine that should be faster and more reliable. 

These upgrades could help make some of the best smartwatches even better. Though they might not sound as major as say, the rumored watchOS 10 overhaul, things like a longer battery life and a greater accessibility focus offer refinements that Wear OS still needs.

Not only will Wear OS 4 likely come to the company's in-house Google Pixel Watch, but Samsung's watches (such as the Galaxy Watch 5), too. 

In fact, it's possible Wear OS 4 will become fully available alongside the launches of the  Google Pixel Watch 2 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, which are both believed to arrive this fall. That's just a bit of speculation, but it would surely make a statement for the next-generation of Android smartwatches. 

All Google had to offer in terms of a Wear OS 4 release date is that there will be more shared in coming months. 

Wear OS 3 upgrades to hold us over

In addition to announcing Wear OS 4, Google shared some news about app experiences for Wear OS 3 at Google I/O.

The biggest news is probably the arrival of WhatsApp to Wear OS watches. Using the smartwatch app, users will soon be able to use the messaging service directly from their wrist.

Meanwhile, Spotify is getting an update with new tiles and support for the Spotify DJ feature. Google used I/O to remind us about the recent Peloton machine compatibility update, too.

Finally, Wear OS users are getting a couple of Google app improvements. Google Home smart home controls will expand to include smart locks, Gmail is getting updated "inbox triaging" features and Calendar will offer more information that before.  

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Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.