Wear OS 3 Upgrade News is Bad News for Fossil’s Upcoming Watches (Updated)

Fossil Gen 5

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After reading today’s news from Google about the devices that will be eligible for the upgrade to Wear OS 3, it sure sounds like Fossil got out ahead of itself some. A few weeks back, the fashion wearable maker was all-in on its next watch “launching with the [new Wear] unified platform,” but that doesn’t appear to be true. In fact, today’s announcement from Google says the opposite and is very bad news for Fossil’s upcoming watches.

To back up for a minute, understand that the quote above is from Fossil CFO Greg McKelvey, where he unveiled their plans for the Fossil Gen 6 during an interview in June. He called the watch “premium,” talked about it having major hardware upgrades, and said to expect a price north of their current best watches. But as that quote reads, he was pretty direct on their new watch shipping with Google’s new Wear OS 3 platform.

However, Google said today that the Fossil Group’s new generation of devices launching later this year “will be eligible for upgrade,” as if they won’t have Wear OS 3 out of the box. What makes this detail worse is the fact that Google said it expects its partners to “be able to roll out the system update starting in mid to second half of 2022.” In other words, Fossil will ship the Gen 6 this year and it might not see Wear OS 3 for up to a year.

On top of that, Google explained that the update is so major that it’ll require a factory reset and will be opt-in because while it will “bring the benefit of many of the new experiences,” the “user experience will also be impacted” in some cases. There is a chance Wear OS 3 won’t run well on Fossil’s new watch, which isn’t good for a watch likely carrying a price well north of $300.

It’s hard to know exactly why Fossil’s new watch won’t ship with the new Wear OS 3 and what the experience will truly be like. All we know is that the Fossil Gen 6 will run a Qualcomm chip, likely the Snapdragon Wear 4100. After seeing the back and forth between Google and Qualcomm over Wear OS 3 and support for the 4100, I’m starting to think Qualcomm really was left completely in the dark on the new platform and that its newest and best chip isn’t quite up to Google’s new standards for its wearable OS.

We’ve reached out to Fossil for clarification and will update this should we receive it.

  • UPDATE: Fossil got back to us and clarified that their CFO meant the new watches would be eligible for the update to Wear OS 3. They also explained that they will work to “bring the maximum amount of innovation that Google will enable to each of our generation of smartwatches.” So yeah, no Wear OS 3 at launch.

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