Android Wear 3.0: what we want to see

Android Wear 2.0 landed in February, so given that most things in the mobile world have a yearly cycle we might well be just a few months away from the launch of Android Wear 3.0.

But if we are, then Google has kept it very quiet because little to nothing is yet known or even rumored about it.

There’s plenty of room for improvement though, so we’ve come up with a wish list of what we want from Android Wear 3.0.

And as and when we do start hearing information about it you’ll find all of that here too, in our constantly updated guide to Google’s next wearable OS.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next version of Google's smartwatch operating system
  • When is it out? Possibly next year
  • How much will it cost? It'll be free

Android Wear 3.0 release date

Guessing at Android Wear 3.0’s release date isn’t as simple as some things, because Google has only had two major Android Wear releases so far, and it didn’t stick to the typical yearly gap between them.

Android Wear’s original release was back in June 2014, following a March 2014 announcement. We then saw the sizeable Android Wear 1.1 update land roughly a year later in May 2015, but after that there were several smaller jumps before Android Wear 2.0 arrived in February 2017.

As there haven’t been any new versions since then (not even a 2.1) it seems likely that some sort of Android Wear update will arrive before too long, but whether it will be a big jump to 3.0 or a small jump to 2.1 is less clear.

And either way we can’t get overly specific about when we’ll see it. Within the first six months of 2018 seems likely, but while there’s an outside chance it will land in February, we wouldn’t count on it. In fact, we might even be kept waiting until Google I/O 2018 in May.

Android Wear 3.0 news and rumors

There’s nothing to report yet on Android Wear 3.0, which suggests we might see it later rather than sooner. But as soon as we hear anything we’ll update this article.

What we want to see

We might not know anything about Android Wear 3.0 yet, but we know what we hope Google is working on. The following seven things top our list.

1. More apps

While Android Wear doesn’t have the kind of app problem that plagued Windows Phone, it could definitely do with a wider selection, and doesn’t seem to have the same sort of support as watchOS.

That’s not really surprising, since Android Wear also isn’t as popular, but it’s a vicious circle – without the apps it’s never likely to reach those levels of popularity. So we’d like to see a wider selection with the launch of Android Wear 3.0. We don’t know how Google will manage this, but we have faith.

2. Better efficiency

Two problems that plague many Android Wear devices are weak battery life and middling performance. Faster chipsets and bigger batteries (if manufacturers can find a way to squeeze them in) are the most obvious solutions to that, but Google could probably help at a software level.

If it can make Android Wear 3.0 more lightweight and efficient than previous versions then we might be able to get noticeable speed and life boosts on existing hardware.

3. Greater support for iOS

Android Wear now works reasonably well with iOS, but the experience is still more limited than if you have an Android phone, as, for example, notifications can’t be interacted with in as many ways, leaving you unable to respond to WhatsApp messages and the like.

There’s also no iMessage support, and while we can’t see that changing, as it would presumably require additional cooperation from Apple, we’d like to see Google work to get the core experience up to the same standards when paired with iOS as it is with Android.

4. A smoother roll out

One of the downsides of Android on phones is that new versions of the operating system often take a long time to arrive on handsets, if they arrive at all. That’s partially down to the heavy skins manufacturers put on their devices, meaning they have to work a lot harder to get the update functional.

This should be less of an issue on Android Wear, since while manufacturers offer some light customization it’s broadly the same across devices, yet Android Wear 2.0 still took a long time to arrive on some watches and many older ones didn’t get it at all.

For Android Wear 3.0 we want every watch that currently has Android Wear 2.0 to get the update (unless there’s a hardware reason it can’t) and for all of them to get it in a timely fashion.

5. Let you use your watch as your password

If you’ve got an Android Wear device you can have your Android phone or Chromebook automatically unlock when connected to it, but the same skill can’t be extended to a Windows or Mac computer.

Since we’d wager most people have one of them this is a big omission, albeit an understandable one, since they’re not running a Google operating system. If at all possible though we’d like Android Wear 3.0 to let your watch unlock non-Google devices.

6. Cast content

Google Cast is a great way to get media from your phone to your TV or stereo, but the same feature doesn’t exist on Android Wear.

Arguably it would be less useful on a watch, but there are certainly times when it would be handy to be able to cast music from our wearables to a Chromecast Audio.

7. Interface tweaks

With version 2.0 Google polished Android Wear’s interface, but there’s still work to be done to make interacting with these tiny screens easier.

We want Android Wear 3.0 to further polish and refine the interface, but in terms of specific improvements we’d love to see an easy way to get back to a workout or call screen from the home screen.

On our phones there’s a green bar at the top for calls and the recent apps menu for everything else and neither is more than a tap or swipe away, but on Android Wear navigation doesn’t feel quite so simple, and a single tap – whether accidental or intentional – can leave you far from where you were before.