Wear OS 5 revealed with big battery life improvements and better running data for your Android smartwatch

Google Pixel Watch 2
(Image credit: Future)

Android watches are about to get a lot more efficient and a lot more useful for runners. 

Google just took the wraps off Wear OS 5, the next software version for Android smartwatches, during Google I/O 2024, and the standout upgrade is the promise of an enhanced smartwatch battery life, with Wear OS 5 delivering key efficiency improvements. One example Google provided pertains to the battery drain caused by long-term workout tracking: according to the company's claims, Wear OS 5 will cause a smartwatch to preserve 20% more battery while running a marathon compared to a watch powered by Wear OS 4.

Some Wear OS watches have been more successful when it comes to battery life than others, with Samsung watches and some other third-party watches providing multi-day battery life. Google's own Pixel Watch series experience is the same so-so, one-day battery life as Apple Watch, but this Wear OS 5 news could imply battery life will be a priority for the upcoming Pixel Watch 3.

Beyond better battery life, Wear OS 5 is also bringing some additional exercise data that runners might find useful. Ground Contact Time, Stride Length, Vertical Oscillation, and Vertical Ratio are new metrics that users will be able to monitor. These are the kinds of data points that Apple welcomed to its watchOS smartwatch software in 2022, so it's encouraging to see Wear OS catching up.

That said, Wear OS updates continue to prove less drastic than watchOS ones. The only other update worth noting at this time is the next iteration of Watch Face Format, which offers deeper customizations for watch face creation.

If precedent is any indication, Wear OS 5 will likely become available first on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 7 (and rumored Galaxy Watch 7 Ultra) this summer. It'll come blended with Samsung's One UI skin, though. We'll get more of a pure picture of Wear OS 5 can do when the Pixel Watch 3 presumably arrives in the fall.

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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.