Google just remembered that its smartwatch operating system, Android Wear, exists. While we’re not getting new hardware or software, the OS is being rebranded to “Wear OS by Google.” There’s a new name, a new logo, and a new website to promote the brand.
When Android Wear first launched, it was an Android-based smartwatch OS that only worked when paired with Android phones, so “Android Wear” made perfect sense. Google later added iPhone compatibility, which made the name “Android Wear” seem a bit misleading. It would be easy for an iPhone user to see the name and assume their non-Android phone was not compatible with it. “Wear OS” is much more neutral, with Google calling it “a wearables operating system for everyone” in its blog post. The situation is a lot like Google’s other recent name change, when it switched “Android Pay” to “Google Pay.” Android Pay worked on more platforms than just Android (like the Web) so it got a platform-generic name.
This rebranding is sadly the best news Android Wear has gotten in about year. Before this announcement, it would have been easy to suspect that Android Wear was dead, as it has major problems all throughout the ecosystem and hasn’t seen much support from Google.