Google Pixel Watch to receive Material You design overhaul with Wear OS update
Android 14 has revealed a few clues about the direction of Wear OS. (Image source: NotebookCheck)
Android 14 has revealed a few clues about the direction of Wear OS. (Image source: NotebookCheck)

Google’s Material You design language appears destined for Wear OS, which remains based on Android 11. Material You should bring greater customisation options to Wear OS with tweaks like system-wide colours, among other changes.

The Pixel Watch may be relatively new, but the OS underpinning it is nearly 30 months old. Currently, Google’s first smartwatch ships with Wear OS 3.5, a version of Android 11 that utilises personalised tiles and watch faces with no shared theming system. However, the next major Wear OS update could see the smartwatch adopt Google’s Material You design language, based on 9to5Google’s findings within Android 14 Developer Preview 1 (DP1). 

Supposedly, Android 14 DP1 includes references to settings called ‘DYNAMIC_COLOR_THEME_ENABLED’, a feature that is missing from Android 11’s and Wear OS 3.5’s codebase. At this stage, it remains to be seen whether Wear OS will adjust colours based on those selected for an active watch face or if it will be possible to select a system-wide accent colour. Still, it seems that at least some form of dynamic colour themes are headed to Wear OS.

Alternatively, Google could synchronise a paired smartphone’s accent colour with the one on a Wear OS smartwatch. The next version of Wear OS is likely to maintain a black-heavy UI though, considering the proliferation of AMOLED displays and small batteries in smartwatches like the Galaxy Watch 5 and the Pixel Watch.

Separately, it is unclear which version of Android Google will upgrade Wear OS to, whether that be Android 12, Android 13 or Android 14. With Android 14 seemingly another iteration of Android 12, it may be simpler for Google to bring Wear OS to parity with Android than in years gone by. Typically, Google previews new versions of Android at its annual I/O conferences, as it did with Wear OS 3 in 2021. Hence, we may be but a few months away from the debut of Wear OS 4.0.  

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Alex Alderson, 2023-02-11 (Update: 2023-02-11)

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