The New Wear OS Is Here: How to Get It

The Wear OS overhaul that Google promised in August is now rolling out to Android watch owners, starting today (Sept. 28).

The software upgrade includes an easier-to-use interface that puts notifications and workouts a swipe away, a proactive Google Assistant and more useful features that promise to improve the Android smartwatch experience, even without Qualcomm’s next-generation chip.

Here’s how to tell if the new Wear OS is available to install on your watch:

1. Open the Settings app on your Wear OS watch.

2. Tap System.

3. Select About.

4. Scroll down and choose System Updates.

If an update is available to install, make sure your watch is on its charger and connected to Wi-Fi for a speedier download. If you don’t see a software update alert, check again in a few days.

Fixing Wear OS’s problems

Google confirmed to me last month that the company doesn’t plan to release a Wear OS watch of its own at its hardware event Oct. 9, preferring instead to help its hardware partners by creating a better software experience. Those partners include luxury companies such as Louis Vuitton, fashion brands like Fossil and sport watch makers like Casio.

Those watches have suffered from performance lag, poor battery life and a not-exactly-intuitive interface. The new Wear OS is designed to address those issues.

Google is putting all of the features you want to use most just a swipe away, instead of burying them in app drawers. A swipe right pulls up Google Assistant’s new proactive view, which shows you relevant information about your day and significant upcoming events, including reservations and trips. A swipe to the left launches Google Fit, so you can quickly start a workout. A swipe up reveals your notifications, and a swipe down pulls up shortcuts to Google Pay, Find My Phone and other quick tools.

We’re putting the new features to the test to see how dramatic a difference the software upgrade makes day-to-day. Stay tuned for a full review.