Wear OS 5: New features, eligible watches, One UI 6 Watch, and more

Turning the crown on the Google Pixel Watch 2
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Wear OS 5, the next update to the popular Android watch platform, will arrive later in 2024. Announced at Google I/O 2024, the update will focus on three key areas: Battery life improvements, new watch faces, and a horde of new fitness features. 

While Wear OS 4 added functionality like easier watch transfers, new apps, and a new Watch Face Format, Wear OS 5 seems to focus more on optimization, making your current Android watch last longer and plugging the gaps where the last OS fell short. 

We'll explain every Wear OS 5 feature Google has revealed thus far, which Android watches we expect to update to Wear OS 5, and everything else you need to know. 

Wear OS 5: New features

Different Wear OS 5 screens showing the words "From the world round, hello Google I/O '24!"

Wear OS 5's Jetpack Compose tool for developers (Image credit: Google)

Google's Wear OS 5 announcement described a long list of upcoming features. We may discover more feature updates when it launches, but this news gave us plenty to start with. 

For starters, Wear OS 5 will have "performance improvements," such that "running a marathon consumes up to 20% less power." This may or may not be due to the Hybrid Wear OS interface relegating health sampling to the co-processor, or else other behind-the-scenes changes. 

Google's Watch Face Format introduced in Wear OS 4 will also add new "Flavors." Users choosing a watch face will also be able to pick between different colors and complications for each watch face, including some new complications like "Goal progress" that show your percentage completion towards a goal like 10,000 steps. 

New Wear OS 5 watch face Flavors

(Image credit: Google)

Google will make this new XML WFF the default option for Wear OS 5, restricting uploads of other formats like AndroidX starting in early 2025. Your old watch faces will still work and receive updates, but won't get access to new complications. 

Wear OS developers will find other backend changes that will hopefully make Wear OS apps more user-friendly and dynamic. In particular, Google says these apps will "ensure your app works optimally across the range of device sizes and font scales." Now that you can find Android watch displays anywhere from 1 to 1.5 inches, devs need to make their apps look good across the board. 

New Wear OS 5 complications for Goal progress and weighted elements

(Image credit: Google)

On the fitness side, the Wear OS background system for tracking data (Android Health) is getting new running form measurements: Ground Contact Time, Stride Length, Vertical Oscillation, and Vertical Ratio. Fitness apps will have the option to share data like this to and from Health Connect in the background for the first time, as well as pull data from your entire workout history — not just the last month.

Wear OS 5 watches will support "debounced goals," which is a fancy way of saying athletes can set a workout goal like "keep my heart rate between 130–160bpm for 30 minutes" and have the watch warn them after a short delay if they fall out of range. At the moment, Wear OS 4 watches buzz your watch the moment you're out of range, leading to false positives and annoyed runners. 

One UI 6 Watch

My Vitality score reveal showing new Samsung Health feature launching later this year.

(Image credit: Samsung / Android Central)

Samsung has yet to reveal many concrete facts about One UI 6 Watch. A Samsung Wear OS 5 test build was spotted in early May, but we don't know any specifics except that it'll be based on Android 14 and arrive alongside the Galaxy Watch 7 this summer. 

We do know Samsung, like Google, will focus on fitness updates. This January, Samsung revealed its "My Vitality Score" update arriving to the Galaxy S24 and Galaxy Watch 6 this summer. It'll combine your sleep, activity, heart rate, and HRV data to determine your energy level and readiness to work out. 

Plus, Samsung will generate "Booster cards" that "provide insight into the 'why' behind your health readings,"

This data doesn't only apply to Wear OS 5 since the Galaxy Ring will create this data too, and you can see it all on your smartphone. But we assume One UI 6 Watch will make your Vitality Score or Booster Cards visible on the watch as Tiles or watch face complications.

Wear OS 5: When does it arrive?

Updating the Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Google promises that Wear OS 5 will launch "later this year," meaning sometime in 2024. It has yet to promise a specific release date. The Wear OS 5 developer preview went live on May 15. 

Samsung typically launches its One UI Watch spinoff of Wear OS in the summer alongside the latest Galaxy Watch. Wear OS 3 and 4 arrived in August 2021 and 2023, respectively, though only on Samsung watches. We suspect Wear OS 5 will roll out alongside the Galaxy Watch 7 in August 2024.

However, the "stock" version of Wear OS 5 won't arrive until October 2024, when the Pixel Watch 3 launches. 

Last-gen models will likely receive the update soon after the newer models; last year, the first Pixel Watch received Wear OS 4 five days after the Pixel Watch 2 launch, while the Galaxy Watch 5 got it a couple of weeks after the Watch 6. 

Outside of Google and Samsung, the other Wear OS brands don't have a public update schedule. Some companies take months, if not years, before updating their watches to new versions. Mobvoi, for example, is still working on jumping its Ticwatch Pro 5 series to Wear OS 4, so Wear OS 5 could be a ways off for some, if it arrives at all.

Wear OS 5: Eligible watches

Google Pixel Watch 2 vs OnePlus Watch 2

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

These are the current Wear OS watches confirmed to receive the update, plus our best guess of the release month:

  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 (August)
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 (August)
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 (August)
  • Google Pixel Watch (October)
  • Google Pixel Watch 2 (October)
  • OnePlus Watch 2 (Unknown)

In addition, the upcoming Galaxy Watch 7 and Pixel Watch 3 should launch with Wear OS 5.

Samsung watches will get four major Wear OS updates, so the Galaxy Watch 4 should get one more update in 2025 after Wear OS 5. Google promises three years of OS updates, so Wear OS 5 could be the Pixel Watch 1's last feature update.

The OnePlus Watch 2 has two guaranteed OS updates; we can hope for a speedy Wear OS 5 update this fall, but have no precedent to compare against. 

As for watches currently running Wear OS 3.5 like the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro and TicWatch Pro 5 Enduro, we believe they'll receive Wear OS 4 but have no guarantees about Wear OS 5. 

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, VR/AR and fitness

Michael is Android Central's resident expert on fitness tech and wearables, with an enthusiast's love of VR tech on the side. After years freelancing for Techradar, Wareable, Windows Central, Digital Trends, and other sites on a variety of tech topics, AC has given him the chance to really dive into the topics he's passionate about. He's also a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves D&D, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

For wearables, Michael has tested dozens of smartwatches from Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, COROS, Polar, Amazfit, and other brands, and will always focus on recommending the best product over the best brand. He's also completed marathons like NYC, SF, Marine Corps, Big Sur, and California International — though he's still trying to break that 4-hour barrier.