Wear OS by Google, the wearable platform formerly known as Android Wear, is based on Android and, therefore, technically and legally open source. But just like Android itself, development doesn’t exactly happen in the open completely and there are some parts that are proprietary to Google. That is especially frustrating for smartwatch believers, especially when their wearables get abandoned and outdated. Now they might have a choice with the first stable release of AsteroidOS, a completely open source operating system designed not just to run on Wear OS smartwatches but also to give the community a hand in its development.
AsteroidOS was conceptualized nearly four years ago, says its creator, but only entered its first alpha in late 2016. A year and a half later, the open source alternative to Android Wear/Wear OS is finally fit for mass consumption. That is, if you’re willing to take the steps to install it on your smartwatch. The process is pretty much the same as installing a custom ROM on an Android smartphone though AsteroidOS does offer the option to dual boot with Wear OS for backup.
The OS might not be as fully featured as Wear OS, which is expected considering its 1.0 status. That said, it still has enough of the basics to make it a very usable smartwatch platform. That includes notifications, alarm clock and agenda, stop watch, music app remote control, weather forecast, and even a calculator. It is also ready for developers and designers with an SDK and already available open source software and tools to make writing apps and creating watch faces easier.
AsteroidOS’ list of supported smartwatches isn’t short either. That includes the LG G Watch, LG G Watch Urbane, LG G Watch R, Asus Zenwatch 1, Asus Zenwatch 2, Asus Zenwatch 3, and Sony Smartwatch 3, many of which have not been updated by their manufacturers or Google for that matter. Unlike Wear OS, however, AsteroidOS is only compatible with Android phones for now.
It isn’t clear yet if it will ever gain iOS support considering the latter’s proprietary nature. There are, however, still plenty of things to be done for AsteroidOS, including implementing calendar syncing and an always on display. And being a mostly standard Linux system, it can even run other unconventional programs, like the Docker container framework, an open source virtual assistant like Mycroft, or even a game of Doom.