The first time we heard of Samsung planning to go back to Wear OS-running smartwatches was back in 2018 when some company employees were spotted wearing watches with Google’s operating system instead of Tizen. Yet the company stuck with its in-house operating system for all of its smartwatches since. Last month a reliable tipster claimed an Android Watch may finally be coming, and we later saw evidence backing those claims.
Now an APK teardown of the latest version of the Galaxy App wearable app suggests that Samsung’s next-gen smartwatches will indeed run Google’s Wear OS. The source has found a new plugin codenamed “water,” which is believed to be a Wear OS compatibility layer. There’s also a reference to “newos” and all this suggests Samsung’s new smartwatches will come with Wear OS.
The code also mentions “merlot,” believed to be the chipset for the Watch Active3/4 and Watch4 expected to arrive in 40/41mm and 44/45mm sizes, respectively. These will have cellular and Bluetooth variants.
It’s unclear at the moment whether Samsung will ditch Tizen in favor of Wear OS on its new smartwatches, or it will just come up with a new line of Wear OS-powered smartwatches while continuing to launch watches running Tizen.
So when I found the Buds 2 leak, I found a few things about upcoming Galaxy Watches.
There's a new plugin codename "water." I believe "water" is the Samsung wearable/WearOS compatibility layer. It mentions "merlot," which I believe is the chipset for "wise" and "fresh"…
— Max Weinbach (@MaxWinebach) March 29, 2021
It does still feel like an odd move for Samsung to make, especially when its own Tizen OS offers a better all-round experience, and it’s just launched two of its best smartwatches running on in its in-house platform.
Whether it chooses to ditch Tizen entirely for Wear OS or offer it as an alternative is something we can still only speculate about. With Google having finally completed its acquisition of Fitbit, Samsung may well be privy to some radical changes to the platform that may have prompted a jump back to Google.
As we say, it’s all speculation at the moment, but it will certainly be an interesting move by Samsung to turn the clock back for a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3 or Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 if it thinks it will help edge closer to the Apple Watch’s dominance.