Wear OS smartwatch update just quietly brought a huge new feature

Wear OS
(Image credit: Future)

Although a massive Wear OS upgrade is expected very soon, it seems Google isn't leaving us waiting until then, because it has updated its smartwatch operating system with a new feature which you'll be surprised didn't exist already.

As per a post on the Wear OS blog, you'll soon be able to install apps for your Wear OS smartwatch via a paired Android phone, instead of having to use the Play Store app on the watch.

When this update rolls out, via your phone's Play Store, you'll be able to search for Wear OS apps and watch faces as well as ones for your phone, and install them straight from your handset.

There's also going to be an update to the design of the Play Store, inspired by Android 12's Material You design feature, which supposedly makes information easier to comprehend.

Google says this update will be available "in the coming weeks", to "Android phones and watches running Wear OS by Google version 2.x and up".


Analysis: too little, too late?

Wear OS

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Wear OS is having an absolute gangbuster of a year - the aforementioned grand update, which Google designed alongside Samsung, is set to bring the biggest update to these smartwatches in years. The new Play Store change is just a cherry on top.

But for years before, Wear OS barely saw any updates, making it one of the lesser-used smartwatch operating systems, with manufacturers often opting to design their own software rather than use Google's. 

Though Samsung is reportedly using the new Wear OS for its Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch Active 4, the last few doldrum years may have resulted in lots of watchmakers being wary. Once this new Wear OS has launched, what's to say Google will update it regularly, instead of returning to the usual sporadic updates the current Wear OS build gets?

In addition, with lots of hardware makers having already developed their own software, they might find it easier to keep updating their own platforms, rather than crawl back to Google.

Lots of smartwatch fans have long hoped for Wear OS to get frequent large updates like Android does, and while that could be the case in the future, Google is going to have to prove it before we believe it.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.