In a move that has taken the wearable tech community by surprise, Google recently announced the discontinuation of Google Assistant support for smartwatches running Wear OS 2. This shift has prompted both concern and frustration among users and manufacturers alike.
As the deadline for this major change draws near, Wear OS 2 smartwatch owners are left with a difficult decision: upgrade to a Wear OS 3-compatible device or risk losing access to Google Assistant.
Countdown to Transition
August 31st marks the official end of support for Google Assistant on Wear OS 2 devices. This revelation has its origins in a code snippet discovered by the tech blog 9to5Google within a recent update of the Wear OS companion app. Following this discovery, Google and various smartwatch brands have begun notifying users about the imminent change.
Prominent industry insider Mishaal Rahman shared one such notification from his Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 on social media, revealing that users should consider upgrading to a “newer watch that runs Wear OS 3 (and that supports Google Assistant)”
Promised Enhancements of Wear OS 3
Users who transition to Wear OS 3 are promised a revamped Google Assistant experience akin to what debuted on the Galaxy Watch 4. This upgrade brings forth a more streamlined user interface and enables voice commands for specific actions, such as setting alarms. However, the transition hasn’t been seamless, leaving several users grappling with compatibility issues and feature disparities.
For those interested in exploring the evolution of wearable tech further, the Upcoming Pixel Watch 2: UWB Support Uncertain, but Intriguing Features Await article delves into the potential features of the next-generation Pixel Watch 2, shedding light on the exciting advancements in the industry.
Unforeseen Challenges and Device Discrepancies
Transitioning from Wear OS 2 to Wear OS 3 has proven to be a complex endeavor. Not all eligible devices can support the new operating system, and even among those that can, disparities in their compatibility with the updated Assistant app are evident. For example, Mobvoi, the maker of the TicWatch Pro 3, issued an apology to users for the lack of Wear OS 3 support for certain models.
Despite recently closed beta testing, those models still do not run the new system. This has led to a frustrating scenario where users are faced with the choice of acquiring a TicWatch Pro 5, which supports Wear OS 3 but lacks Google Assistant compatibility.
Broader Implications for the Wearable Ecosystem
The discontinuation of Google Assistant support on Wear OS 2 smartwatches isn’t an isolated incident. Other brands, such as Fitbit, have also encountered similar challenges. The Fitbit Versa 4, unlike its predecessor the Versa 3, lacks Google Assistant functionality. This landscape presents a puzzling and disconcerting situation for users loyal to specific brands. While the option of adopting Google’s Pixel Watch solves the dilemma, it may not align with everyone’s preferences.
For those interested in the potential evolution of Wear OS smartwatches, exploring the recently published insights on WhatsApp Arriving on Wear OS sheds light on how these devices are being enhanced with the integration of the popular messaging app WhatsApp, potentially offering a glimpse of future possibilities.
Google’s Approach and Future Prospects
As Wear OS 4 looms on the horizon, questions arise regarding Google’s intentions for third-party smartwatch manufacturers. Will the tech giant provide support or solutions to bridge compatibility gaps between different generations of devices? Despite these uncertainties, Google has remained tight-lipped about its plans beyond August 31st. The tech community awaits clarification, hoping for a more coherent and cooperative approach from Google as the transition continues.
The imminent discontinuation of Google Assistant support for Wear OS 2 smartwatches underscores the rapid evolution of wearable technology and the challenges it brings. As users grapple with decisions about upgrading their devices, the future of third-party smartwatch brands hangs in the balance. While the transition from Wear OS 2 to Wear OS 3 hasn’t been without its stumbling blocks, users and manufacturers alike hold out hope for clearer guidance and a more harmonious ecosystem in the days to come.