Wear OS has had a turbulent past to say the least. Despite being the first one to arrive at the smartwatch scene, Google was never able to capture the glory or hype of the Apple Watch and the juggernaut it has now become. This is further made evident by the fact that Google has only released two versions of Wear OS since its inception, whereas Apple is currently on WatchOS 8, the eighth generation of the watch’s software.
However, things are changing, or at least, Google wants to change them to finally turn things around. Wear OS 3 is an ambitious attempt to try to drive some sales and positive discourse towards the Android wearable segment, which has been about as exciting as the Android tablet segment in the past few years. Wear OS is based on Android 11’s codebase and, right now, it’s still under development with a public release planned for later.
Google has, however, already released a version of Wear OS 3 in tandem with Samsung on the company’s Galaxy Watch 4 that launched back in August of last year. But, that has been the only watch since then to run Wear OS 3 with the actual wide release was planned with a gradual rollout for select Snapdragon 4100-based smartwatches. Even though that day is not here yet, Google has just releases a new developer preview for Wear OS 3.
Wear OS 3.2 developer preview
The company has release an emulator image that allows us to compare Wear OS 3.2 with the last known developer preview that came out in December 2021. In essence, nothing has really changed as all the core elements of the OS look, feel, and function identically with the only notable improvements being made generally to polish the OS as it inches closes to its inevitable release.
9To5Google notes that some of the app icons in the app drawer have been refreshed to now match the more themed style and look of Android 12. As you can see in the pictures below, the Hand-Wash Timer is a prime example of this. The rest of the icons have also been updated with the same style but they’re not explicitly part of this release as they’ve seen updates over the course of the past few weeks in between December’s preview and present-day.
For those of you who don’t know, Android 12 allows you to extensively theme your phone to the point where icons on your device can be matched with the wallpaper, producing icons that use the same color pallet across the homescreen. While these new icons in Wear OS 3.2 aren’t exactly there yet seeing how they all use different colors, it’s still a good start showing us how Google is trying to keep everything up to date here.
Moreover, the Notifications tray has also been updated with a more Material You-esque design with the icons on individual notifications adopting a uniform color palette. That means that all the notifications, despite what app they’re coming from, will have the same colored icon in the notifications tray. Again, this shows Google is trying to unify Android 12 and Wear OS 3 as much as possible.
And, that’s about it when it comes to changes. If you’re trying to be really optimistic then maybe you can consider the new “Wear OS 3.2” label in the system settings as a change brought along by this update. Do note that even that isn’t technically new because Galaxy Watch 4 already runs Wear OS 3.2 on its latest update. However, this developer preview updates the security patch for Wear OS 3(x) to March 2022 which is great to see.
Google announced a redesign for Google Assistant on Wear OS smartwatches at the start of February which is unfortunately nowhere to be seen here. Plus, the lack of any actual exciting updates does seem underwhelming but this at least tells us that Google is hard at work developing Wear OS 3. Plus, similar to Windows Insider builds, these emulator images released for developers are not (necessarily) representative of the final software so who knows, maybe Wear OS 3 is much farther ahead in actuality than we think.