Although Wear OS has been around for a long time now, especially if you consider its former Android Wear incarnation, its strength came from sheer numbers rather than platform strength or brand loyalty. Many found Wear OS itself to be decent, if not mediocre at best, while the hardware it ran on was considered to be a few steps behind the competition like the Apple Watch or Samsung’s Tizen-based Galaxy Watches. This year may see a resurgence of interest in Google’s wearable platform, and Qualcomm is losing no time to say that it will be a driving force behind that renaissance.
One of the biggest criticisms hurled at Wear OS smartwatches is the chipset used inside them. The very first Qualcomm SoCs for smartwatches were using really old Snapdragon tech, and almost all of the recent smartwatches still use a Snapdragon 3100 from 2018. Qualcomm did launch the Snapdragon 4100 and 4100+, but all but one or two devices actually use it.
The Wear OS refresh has reignited interest in Google’s wearable platform, but it seems that it will require newer hardware, at least as far as Google is concerned. There is still some uncertainty whether the Snapdragon 4100+ is even eligible for that, but it might not matter as far as Qualcomm is concerned. According to the chipmaker, it is investing heavily in resources to launch new Snapdragon Wear chipsets “across segments over the next year.”
Of course, that’s a rather broad promise to make, but it does mean that Qualcomm is planning not just to release its next-gen flagship wearable platform but also expand to other tiers. This announcement, which largely came out of the blue, may have been prompted by Google’s and Samsung’s partnership announced last May. Qualcomm wants everyone to remember and know that it’s still a major driving force in that market.
In fact, its new Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator program aims to put Qualcomm at the center of this new wave of Wear OS devices. It wants to be the one that brings together the different players in the smartwatch market, from OEMs to ODMs to component manufacturers to system integrators, and ensure that its Snapdragon Wear platform is likewise at the center of all these devices.