The first developer preview for Wear OS by Google, the company's rebranded Android Wear platform, is finally here. It's based on Android P and carries a number of new features that focus on battery saving measures.
Wear OS By Google Features
But first, it's worth noting that Wear OS now switches to a default Dark UI system theme, a stark contrast to Android Wear 1.0, which sported mostly white backgrounds and black text. Android Wear 2.0 switched to the dark side in some respects, but Wear OS finally adopts it entirely.
The most important batch of features, as mentioned, can be found under-the-hood, like subtle software changes meant to extend a smartwatch's battery life as much as possible. For instance, background activity for apps is being limited almost entirely. Google says "apps will no longer be allowed to run in the background unless the watch is on the charger," while encouraging developers to "remove background services" from their apps. Push notifications will remain unaffected, however, and as will apps like fitness trackers or music players.
Wear OS also shuts off connectivity features when the software detects that the watch has been removed from the user's wrist. After a period of time where it's just sitting somewhere doing nothing, the device triggers a sort of airplane mode, with Bluetooth, cellular, and Wi-Fi features coming to a halt. Also, Wear OS devices will no longer connect to Wi-Fi when disconnected from Bluetooth unless an app requires a high-bandwidth network or the watch is charging.
Huawei Watch 2
For now, only 2017's Huawei Watch 2 is eligible for the preview, and Google doesn't mention if other smartwatches will be getting it as well. The company notes that the release is for developers only, and as such it requires manual downloading and flashing. Make sure to read the release notes to get an overview of known issues before downloading and flashing your channel.
Wear OS Release Date?
The developer preview includes system images on the official Android emulator and system images for the Huawei Watch 2. Again, this release is only appropriate for developers, and normal consumers are advised not to tinker with pre-release versions of software on their devices.
Google hasn't said when it plans to release a stable version of Wear OS, nor has it confirmed whether it's going to release a Google-branded smartwatch with Wear OS preinstalled. The platform seems to be in its early stages, and probably more information will come during the company's I/O developer conference in May.