After about a year of near-silence, Google is finally giving its smartwatch operating system an update. The search giant announced Thursday that it will rebrand Android Wear as “Wear OS by Google.”
The shift in branding does not appear to be paired with an update to the operating system’s software nor is it accompanied by the release of a new piece of hardware—but it may mark Google’s interest in reviving its interest in wearable technology.
By renaming the operating system, Google is removing itself from being tied to Android, the company’s mobile operating system used for smartphones and tablets. Google’s smartphone works with both Android and iOS—the operating system for Apple’s iPhone and iPad—so removing the reference to Android reflects its flexibility.
“We’re now Wear OS by Google, a wearables operating system for everyone,” Dennis Troper, the Director of Product Management for Wear OS by Google, said in a blog post announcing the rebranding effort.
While Google may view its operating system for wearable devices as being designed for everyone, its devices have seemingly underperformed. A report last year from Strategy Analytics found that Google’s operating system accounted for just 18 percent of the market share for wearable devices.
According to the report, Google had the third-largest share of the wearable market, trailing Samsung’s Tizen operating system, found on its Galaxy Gear devices, and Apple’s WatchOS, found on its Apple Watch. Apple claimed 57 percent of the wearables market in the report.
While the new name might offer clarity for Google, it offers little comfort for users of the operating system. Google first released Android Wear in 2014 and took over two years to release version 2.0 of the operating system. It has been 13 months since that update and Google has not provided any indication that it will be releasing version 3.0 anytime soon.
Google may provide new updates about Wear OS by Google at its Google I/O event, set to be held May 8-10.