Can Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Wear chip breathe life into Wear OS?

Snapdragon’s been talking up its new wearable chip architecture since Google I/O back in May. The component giant finally took the wraps off the product at an event earlier today in San Francisco.

As one imagines from the I/O partnership, Wear 3100 has Google’s smartwatch operating system firmly in its sites. And not a moment too soon, really. In spite of a handful of updates, Wear OS has felt pretty stagnant for some time. Not even the rebrand from Android Wear could help shake loose the cobwebs.

The new architecture replaces the 2100. Qualcomm’s chips are currently shipping in more than 100 different Wear OS watches by 25 different brands, according to the company. Honestly, I’m mostly surprised to hear that Wear OS devices have hit the triple digits. After all, category leaders like Apple, Fitbit and Samsung have all opted to invest in their own software ecosystem, rather than embracing Google.

Interestingly, the first three partners for the new chip are luxury watch makers, rather than tech companies like LG or Huawei. Fossil Group, Louis Vuitton and Montblanc have all signed up to use the tech, perhaps marking the perceived way forward for the operating system. A Pixel Watch launching at Google’s fall event also seems like a very likely possibility, given the timing of the news.

Extended battery life is the main thing here — that, after all, has long been the bane of smartwatch makers. The new chip also brings new modes, include a “Traditional Watch Mode” to cut down on battery use and a “Rich Interactive Mode” for a more robust experience.

The new chip starts shipping for mass production today.

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