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Google is working on bringing a crucial missing feature to Wear OS

A Fossil Gen 6 on a wooden board



A Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch running Wear OS
(Image credit: Fossil)

At the moment, if you switch to a new smartphone and you’re sticking with the same Wear OS smartwatch, your only (officially supported) option is to reset the watch and start again from scratch. That’s not an ideal scenario – but it looks as though help is on the way.

As spotted by XDA Developers (opens in new tab), there’s now code in the Google Play Services app for Android that references being able to back up Wear OS data to Google One in the cloud, before syncing it back to the wearable (presumably after a phone switch).

There’s now a “Back up your device with Google One” text string, for example, together with the option to choose a Google account to use for the backup. From the code that’s been spotted before, it looks as though this will be an opt-in feature.

The waiting game

From what we know so far, there’s no indication of when the feature might find its way to users. Google hasn’t said anything officially, and it’s not clear how much of a priority it is for the Google engineers working on Wear OS.

However, the imminent arrival of the Google Pixel Watch – expected around September or October time – would be the perfect opportunity to add some major new functionality to Wear OS. We’re assuming that most smartwatches running Wear OS, or at least those launched in recent years, will be getting the upgrade.

Samsung recently launched the Galaxy Watch 5 and the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, and the Apple Watch 8 is expected before the end of the year, so the competition in the smartwatch space is tougher than ever as Google readies its first product in this category.


Analysis: Google gets there in the end

It’s encouraging to see that Google is finally working on cloud backups for Wear OS, but given the company’s expertise in all things internet, it’s something of a disappointment that it took Google this long to get around to adding the feature.

Google also took its time sorting out backups for Android: getting your phone data transferred to a new device was a pain for many years, before Google finally released official apps and services (including Google One) to make the process much easier.

You can now back up data from an Android or iOS device to Google One, and it doesn’t count towards your storage space either (so it doesn’t matter if you pay for more space or not). It’s likely that the Wear OS version is going to work in the same way.

Don’t hold your breath though: according to the code that’s been spotted in Google Play, this is a feature that’s still very much in its early stages, so it might be a while yet before you’re seamlessly moving your Wear OS smartwatch between phones.

David Nield

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you’ll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.

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