Last week, Fossil announced the Gen 6 Wellness Edition, its first Wear OS 3 smartwatch. But starting today, the company is also beginning to roll out the Wear OS 3 update for patient owners of existing Gen 6 smartwatches. The update has a few significant omissions, but one of the more surprising ones is Google Fit — an app that was once preloaded onto nearly every Wear OS 2 smartwatch. The app is also missing from the newly launched Pixel Watch.
First reported by 9to5Google, the lack of Google Fit was confirmed in an update that Fossil posted in r/WearOS. The gist is the Google Fit app hasn’t been updated to support Wear Health Services, a new system layer in Wear OS 3 that collects health data for apps in a more battery-efficient way. Wear Health Services is a form of quality control that requires manufacturers to test and validate metrics regardless of the hardware. This is good for Wear OS in the long run, as it’ll “ensure” a more uniform experience across the platform. But right now, it leaves folks upgrading from Wear OS 2 with nothing to tide them over — sort of like how users had to wait forever for YouTube Music to show up once Google killed Play Music. The post also notes that Fossil is “eager to see the Fitbit app for Wear OS 3 come to [its] watches in the future,” but for now, Fitbit isn’t an option. You’ll have to opt for either Fossil’s Wellness app or a third-party app like Strava and hope for the best.
Technically speaking, you can still download the Google Fit app on the Gen 6 or Pixel Watch. I did it on the latter, but you can’t actually use the app in any meaningful way. Instead, you’ll see a message that reads “Fit is not currently supported on this device, please check for future updates.”
That would imply that it’s possible an update is in the pipeline. That’d be a boon to anyone who’s got an existing Wear OS 2 watch and isn’t interested in buying a Samsung or Google Wear OS watch, especially since it’s unclear if a separate Fitbit Wear OS 3 app is in the works or if it’ll remain a Pixel Watch-exclusive. Without Google Fit or Fitbit, manufacturers would have no choice but to make their own health apps (which Montblanc and Fossil are doing) that sync with Google’s API. That’s a headache when you could just download Google Fit.
Another big omission is that the Wear OS 3 upgrade won’t include Google Assistant. Fossil smartwatch owners can still use Alexa, and Fossil’s post asserts that Google is working on bringing Assistant to Wear OS 3 on Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100-powered devices. But there’s no clear timeline as of yet. This isn’t the most surprising omission given that the Montblanc Summit 3 also launched without Google Assistant earlier this summer. Google Assistant took roughly a year to come to Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 lineup, too. In the meantime, however, it gives users more of an incentive to glom onto Google and Samsung’s hardware.
The Wear OS 3 upgrade won’t include Google Assistant
This last bit won’t impact Android users, but iOS users won’t be able to use Google Wallet at launch, nor do they officially get support for Google Maps. This was the same for iOS users who bought the Summit 3 and the Fitbit Sense 2. While it’s not the worst, it effectively nerfs Fossil as a truly viable platform-agnostic smartwatch for the time being. It would’ve given Fossil a slight edge, as neither Samsung’s Galaxy Watches nor the Pixel Watch support iOS. Now, there’s even less of a reason for iPhone owners to get anything other than an Apple Watch.
Meanwhile, you shouldn’t count on seeing a Snapdragon W5 Plus watch from Fossil this year. The company noted that it chose to not release a Gen 7 line this fall because supply chain issues would bump up the cost. Also, Google didn’t have a lot of guidance for when Wear OS 3 would be ready for non-Samsung and Google devices. This isn’t the first time Fossil’s had to wait to release a new flagship, either. The same happened with the transition from the Gen 5 to the Gen 6.
As for when other eligible Wear OS 2 watches — like Mobvoi’s various TicWatches — will get the Wear OS 3 upgrade, it’s anybody’s guess. Google spokesperson Ivy Chen Hunt told The Verge that updates will vary by OEM.