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Sure, you know what Wear OS is. You're a regular reader of Wareable – the web's biggest authority on wearable devices.

But do you really know everything about the Google's smartwatch OS? Do you know exactly what Wear does and how it works, and what the best Wear smartwatches are? And do you know the must-have Wear apps and all of the platform's hidden secrets?


Do you know why Google changed the platform's name from Android Wear to Wear OS? And that the new Wear Oreo update is now rolling out?

Well, fear not, we've got your back if you're unsure of anything related to Wear, so read on and get up to speed.

What is Wear OS?

Announced at its I/O conference back in March 2014, Android Wear became Google's first dedicated smartwatch OS, based, of course, on the hugely successful Android smartphone platform. Four years later, and Google has now decided to rebrand the platform, dropping 'Android' from the name and adding 'OS' in order to make things more appealing to iOS users. It's a bit of a mouthful, but Android Wear is now officially 'Wear OS by Google'.

But despite the refreshed logo and name, this is still pretty much the same experience. Wear is still based on the same Linux kernel as its smartphone brethren, and developers will need the latest version of Android Studio and the SDKs in order to cook up new apps, or amend their current ones for Wear OS compatibility.

Android Wear: The essential guide

Unless you're developing apps, all you really need to know is that it's a version of Android designed for the smaller screen of a smartwatch. You'll also need a phone with Bluetooth connectivity on board, but nowadays we'd say that's a given.

Wear is still a better experience through Android smartphones, despite the rebrand, but things have improved since Wear 2.0 landed in February 2017. Read our guide to using Wear with iOS for more details.

Windows Phone users – sorry, there's no room for you in the Wear party. But you didn't really expect to get in, did you? Even with your new brogues on. Not a chance.

Looks aren't skin deep

Wear is as pure as the driven snow. There are no skinned user interfaces here and not a manufacturer tweak in sight. For vanilla-OS enthusiasts, this is welcome news, and we're sure developers will be delighted, too.

It also should have meant that updates were rolled out for all manufacturers at the same time, but the rollout of Wear 2.0 showed us that this isn't always the case.

The ability to connect to Wi-Fi networks when you're out and about only extends to smartwatches with the right hardware – more on this later. And not every Wear watch is able to update to the latest software.

It also means that your Wear experience will be more or less the same no matter what smartwatch you decide to slap on your wrist and, great news, it means your chosen tech timepiece will work with any Android handset.

Android Wear: The essential guide

So, the LG Watch Sport plays just as nicely with the Sony Xperia phone as it does with the LG G6. 'Manufacturer agnostic' would be the technical way of putting it – 'a welcome relief' is how we'd describe it.

Actually, we did tell a slight lie. Your Wear OS experience may not be quite the same across all devices. And that's because it's an OS designed to work on both rectangular and circular displays – but we'll deal with that later.

That doesn't mean that Wear OS watches aren't unique. The platform allows for a lot more personalisation from brands; watch faces, specific apps, custom controls etc.

David Singleton, the man who was running the Wear show for Google until late 2017, told us that "Comparing the first-generation of Wear fashion watches, to what we're seeing now, you can really see that we've incorporated a lot of the feedback from these partners so that the watch can feel like a lot more like a watch designed by that company.

"Sure, the apps are going to be the same, but every single pixel on the watch face is something the partner has intimate control over. The functions and the watch faces and any apps they want promoted on the device – that's completely up to them."

How does Wear OS work?

Wear OS, being dedicated to smartwatches, is understandably focused on a couple of key areas – the first being time-telling and the second being notifications.

You might scoff at a time-telling feature, but it's probably the thing that you'll use the most. You'll have a number of pre-selected watch faces to choose from – some swanky, some not so swanky (Tag Heuer has the swankiest) – and it's as easy as pressing and holding the display to scroll through them.

If you can't find one you like, take a look on Google Play and you'll find hundreds, if not thousands, to choose from.

All existing Wear devices are catered for, with round and square designs, and while the initial range back in 2014 was a little limited, Wear 2.0 really upped the watch face game.

In Wear 2.0, you're able to view data from different third-party apps on the watch face, just like complications on the Apple Watch.

Wear OS: The essential guide

As with the propriety platforms we've seen so far, notifications play a big part of the Wear OS experience. You'll get notified about incoming texts, WhatsApp messages, tweets you're mentioned in, Facebook updates, emails and more. The whole shebang.

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Source : https://www.wareable.com/android-wear/what-is-android-wear-comprehensive-guide

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