There has been renewed vigor in the Wear OS ecosystem party thanks to the announcement of the big Wear OS upgrade soon and partly due to the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, the first and so far only to use Wear OS 3. That excitement, however, was quickly doused by the cold reality that not all smartwatches will be updated to Wear OS 3, though, to some extent, that wasn’t totally unexpected, even if completely disappointing. What is unexpected and puzzling, however, is the software support between Wear OS versions, as exemplified not just by Google but also by Strava.
Strava launched its Wear OS 3 app over the weekend, and, given the situation, it was no surprise that it only supported the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. Of course, it will support any Wear OS 3 smartwatch coming in the future, but that future is still distant at this point in time. Unfortunately, that also generated some confusion over the social fitness company’s current Wear OS 2 app.
Strava has now clarified that situation in a way that users probably didn’t want to hear. It is pretty much ending active support for older smartwatches, specifically those running Wear OS 2. The apps can still be accessed and used, of course, just that they won’t’ get updates anymore.
This mirrors the divide that could widen between Wear OS 2 and 3 in the coming months. Google already started that trend by withholding new YouTube and Google Maps apps from older smartwatches. Telegram’s Wear OS app also mysteriously vanished, though hopefully just because it’s preparing a new one. In contrast, Spotify’s offline listening feature has been made available for all Wear OS smartwatches, regardless of the version.
The situation wouldn’t be as bad if there were more Wear OS 3 devices to choose from, but there has been no word on anyone making those. Even Fossil’s Gen 6 smartwatch still runs Wear OS 2, which means it won’t have access to those new apps. The earliest that existing smartwatches might be upgraded to Wear OS 3 probably isn’t until mid-2022, which means that we might be seeing new and more powerful Wear OS apps that barely anyone can use until then.