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Opinion: Some Android Wear watches still haven’t received 2.0, and that’s embarrassing

When Google announced the rollout of Android Wear 2.0, it said that a plethora of smartwatches would be getting the update “in the coming weeks.” I guess that’s always going to be technically true no matter how many weeks have passed, but it’s pretty embarrassing that now, almost 6 months since that announcement, there are still watches that haven’t received the update…

The two watches receiving the spotlight right now due to their excessive tardiness are the ASUS ZenWatch 2 and ZenWatch 3. Both were included in the original list of older devices that would get the update, and both are still sitting on good old Android Wear 1.5 from June of last year.

While the ZenWatch 2 getting updated is almost understandable (quite frankly, I was surprised it was confirmed to be getting the update in the first place), the straggling of the ZenWatch 3 is hurting those buyers pretty bad. That watch is actually newer than many of the other watches on the list that have already received the update, announced as recently as fall 2016 (at IFA, to be exact).

I actually have a ZenWatch 3 sitting in my drawer, and I haven’t touched it since February for this exact reason. Yes, I got an LG Watch Style, which effectively rendered the ZenWatch 3 pretty useless in the first place, but I actually liked that watch’s design. Back in December, I called it one of the best Android Wear watches available. (Albeit with the caveat that there wasn’t much else great to pick from.)

So what’s the status on the ZenWatch 2 and 3 actually getting the update? After a now-deleted tweet from ASUS saying that it should be coming in “the coming weeks” (which is a bit hilarious, in the context of Google’s statement 6 months ago), the German ASUS account came out to say that the ZenWatch 2 should be getting the update in July. That account didn’t mention the newer ZenWatch 3. Also, let’s not forget that the update was first promised to be coming in “early Q2”.

Overall, this looks bad for the ASUS. But just as much, it looks bad for Google. Google obviously only has so much control over OEMs getting these updates pushed out, but Android Wear was supposed to be the model of a more controlled ecosystem that would allow devices to get updates quicker. OEMs aren’t even allowed to make hardly any modifications to the OS, so what could be taking so long besides just pure negligence and carelessness?

Android phones having to go through their hurdles of making sure their updates get all the carrier and OEM bloatware all working properly is annoying enough, but these watches don’t have any of the same obstacles. The software that Google shipped with its LG Watch Style and LG Watch Sport will be more or less exactly the same as the software that we’re waiting on for the ZenWatch 2 and 3.

So it probably comes down to a situation in which updates for these two smartwatches just aren’t getting much priority within ASUS. And quite frankly, that’s understandable, since Android Wear watches aren’t exactly the Taiwanese giant’s biggest driver of revenue. They’re probably an unfathomably minuscule piece of the company’s bottom line, and money talks. Relatively speaking, the people waiting for these updates is tiny. I almost can’t blame them, but it’s still their responsibility.

Those people who bought these devices are still customers, and those customers didn’t just sign up for a product made by ASUS. The software comes from Google, and it’s just sad that the giant can’t get its partners to push out software updates in at least a somewhat timely manner. A month behind Google’s offerings? Sure. Three months behind Google’s watches? Maybe that’s fine. But half a year? Why bother? A lot of people with a ZenWatch 2 or 3 have probably just moved on by now. I have.

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Avatar for Stephen Hall Stephen Hall

Stephen is Growth Director at 9to5. If you want to get in touch, follow me on Twitter. Or, email at stephen (at) 9to5mac (dot) com, or an encrypted email at hallstephenj (at) protonmail (dot) com.