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Android Wear gets updated to Android 8.0 Oreo

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Enlarge / The LG Watch Sport.

Remember Android Wear? Google’s struggling smartwatch OS is getting updated to Android 8.0 Oreo, just like the rest of the Android lineup. Google announced the update on the “Android Wear Developers” Google Plus group. It seems like the only supported watch right now is the flagship LG Watch Sport, which makes sense since that was the only watch to get an Android O beta in the beginning of October.

Wear’s last big update was Android Wear 2.0, which was released with the LG Watch Sport the beginning of the year. Most users won’t notice the move to Oreo. Like Android TV, Android Wear has its own interface and set of features that are developed separately from the base OS version. This update to Oreo changes the under-the-hood OS, but the user-facing features will mostly remain unchanged.

Android Wear has not been doing well in the market. In Q1 2017 the Apple Watch had 57 percent of the market, according to Strategy Analytics, with Samsung’s Tizen OS in second place at 19 percent of the market, and Android Wear in third place at 18 percent. The group is probably undergoing a bit of a shakeup right now, as Android Wear VP of Engineering David Singleton recently left Google.

As I wrote in the LG Sport Watch review, Wear’s biggest problem isn’t really Google’s software but the fact that no one is selling good smartwatch chips. Qualcomm is the only SoC vendor addressing the smartwatch component market, but it is doing so with woefully out-of-date chips. The latest, the Snapdragon Wear 2100, is built on a 28nm process, which last graced a flagship Qualcomm smartphone chip in 2014. Apple and Samsung make their own chips with a more up-to-date manufacturing process, resulting in faster, cooler, smaller chips.

Oreo is rolling out the LG Sport Watch now, while Google says the timing for other watches is “determined by each watch’s manufacturer.”

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