Wear OS 5: what we want to see, and all the leaks so far

Google Pixel Watch 2 HANDS ON
The Google Pixel Watch 2 (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Wear OS 4 doesn’t seem all that long ago, but Google waits for no-one and Wear OS 5 is on the horizon. 

Still, we were disappointed by the lack of Wear OS 5 news at Google’s IO keynote.

You can catch up with the event here, but it seems amid its AI focus, search updates and more, Google chose not to share any updates around its wearable operating system

Thankfully, Wear OS 5 is going to be getting more of a look-in later on in the conference. Building for the future of Wear OS is a Google panel helmed by Garan Jenkin, the company’s Developer Relations Engineer, and it’ll be available online on May 16 at 8AM PT/4PM BST.

Google promises a discussion about Wear OS 5’s new features, including “advances in the Watch Face Format” and “how to design and build for the increasing range of device sizes.”

As you can probably guess, it’s likely to be more developer-focused given the subject material, but it should highlight some of the update’s headline features consumers can look forward to, too. In the meantime, you can read on and find out everything we want to see from the next generation of Wear OS 5 wearables. 

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next major Wear OS operating system update
  • When is it out? Possibly August
  • How much will it cost? It will be a free update

Wear OS 5: Rumored release date

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 on wrist

Wear OS 5 might launch with the next Samsung Galaxy Watch (Image credit: Future)

Wear OS 5 might launch initially on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 7, which itself will probably be announced at Samsung’s next Unpacked event, rumored for July, and then – based on past form – will probably ship in August.

The reason we think Wear OS 5 might launch with this wearable is that a leak suggests Samsung is attempting to get Wear OS 5 – based on Android 14 – working on its new Exynos 5535 chipset, which is likely to first be used by the Galaxy Watch 7.

Note however, Samsung’s take on Wear OS 5 will almost certainly use the company's One UI Watch overlay, so for a less modified take on Wear OS 5, you’ll probably have to wait for the Google Pixel Watch 3, which will likely land in October.

Take the above leak with a pinch of salt, because while Wear OS 4 launched a year before that on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, it was a whole two years earlier in August 2021 that we saw Wear OS 3, and Wear OS 2 landed three years earlier than that.

Now, there have been some – mostly smaller – updates in between these, but Google hasn’t stuck to a yearly cadence for big Wear OS updates. So based on that history, it would seem more likely that Wear OS 5 would land in July or August of 2025.

For now, we’ll assume the leak above is accurate, which would mean we may only have to wait a few months for Wear OS 5. It might also mean Google is switching to a yearly update cycle for its smartwatch operating system going forward.

Wear OS 5: predicted compatibility

Wear OS 5 is sure to run on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 7 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 7 Pro (or Classic, depending on which launches). In fact as noted above these wearables will probably be the first to launch with Watch OS 5.

The Google Pixel Watch 3 is also certain to support Wear OS 5, since Google makes both, and most other upcoming Wear OS watches probably will support it as well.

Beyond that, most current smartwatches that run Wear OS 4 will likely get Wear OS 5 sooner or later, especially those that launched in the last year or so, like the Google Pixel Watch 2, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 line, the OnePlus Watch 2, and many of the other best Wear OS watches.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 on wrist

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is sure to get Wear OS 5 (Image credit: Future)

However, as with Android updates, we wouldn’t expect all of these to get Wear OS 5 on day one, so you might be waiting a while depending on your watch, with Google and Samsung devices likely being first in line.

Wear OS 5: News and leaks

So far, the only real leak surrounding Wear OS 5 is simply that it might launch this year, as detailed above. As such we don’t have any real idea of the features or improvements it might bring, but at a minimum, you can probably expect bug fixes, along with improvements to performance and power efficiency.

Of course, since this update moves the operating system from version 4 to 5, we’d expect quite a bit more than that – we’re just yet to learn what.

Wear OS 5: What we want to see

While we don’t yet know what Wear OS 5 will offer, we have some ideas of what we want from it, which you’ll find below.

1. More AI baked in

A Google Pixel Watch showing the logo of the WearGPT app

A Google Pixel Watch showing the logo of the WearGPT app (Image credit: Google / WearGPT)

AI is the big buzzword in tech right now, and smartphones like the Google Pixel 8 and Samsung Galaxy S24 are embracing it in a big way, but so far smartwatches haven’t so much.

Sure, you can now get ChatGPT on Wear OS, but the core operating system doesn’t feel very AI-infused. With Wear OS 5 we’d like that to change. That could mean bringing the AI-powered Google Assistant with Bard to your wrist. Google has already announced this AI upgrade for Google Assistant, but not yet launched it.

Or perhaps the company will instead bring the rumored Pixel-exclusive Pixie AI assistant to at the very least Pixel Watches. In any case though, we want smartwatches to start getting in on the AI action.

2. Bring Safety Check to all devices

Google Pixel Watch 2

Safety Check on the Google Pixel Watch 2 (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

With Wear OS 4, Google added some new safety features to its Pixel Watch line. These include Safety Check – a feature that lets you set a check-in timer on your watch, which will then automatically share your location with emergency contacts if you don’t confirm you’re ok at a designated time.

This and other safety features like Emergency Sharing (which will share your real-time location with select contacts) are important and potentially even life-saving additions that anyone could benefit from, so we’d like to see them offered as a standard part of Wear OS 5, rather than being exclusive to Google’s Pixel Watches.

3. Fitbit for every wearable

Google Pixel Watch 2

Fitness tracking on the Google Pixel Watch 2 (Image credit: Future)

Similarly, Google only offers Fitbit functionality on Pixel Watches, so we’d like to see the Fitbit app work with other Wear OS smartwatches too.

Sure, this is less essential than safety features, and there’s always Google Fit or third-party fitness tracking services, but Fitbit is a particularly accomplished fitness tracking service, and with health and fitness tracking being such a big part of smartwatches, it would be nice if this worked on more of them.

4. Improved efficiency

Google Pixel Watch 2 HANDS ON

The Google Pixel Watch 2 (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Smartwatch battery life by and large isn’t great, and while the battery capacity will have the biggest impact on that, making the software more efficient can also help the battery go further.

So one other improvement we’d like to see with Wear OS 5 is a focus on making the operating system as efficient as possible, so your smartwatch will last longer between charges.

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James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.