Everything you need to know about the Wear OS hybrid interface

Every 12 months at MWC, Google proclaims a bunch of latest options throughout the Android ecosystem. This 12 months was no completely different, in fact, with apps like Fitbit, Google Docs, Google Maps, and Google Messages seeing new updates. There had been additionally some enhancements to the Maps and Wallet apps on Wear OS, however maybe the most consequential Wear OS-related announcement didn’t come till a number of hours after Google made its Android information public. Google debuted a brand new “hybrid OS interface” for Wear OS that dramatically improves battery life, and it’s already transport on the new OnePlus Watch 2.


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What is the hybrid OS interface?

As Google explains, many Wear OS smartwatches even have two chipsets residing in them. There’s all the time a robust functions processor (AP) that runs Wear OS, equivalent to the Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 present in the Pixel Watch 2 and the OnePlus Watch 2. That AP is commonly paired with an extremely low-power co-processor microcontroller unit (MCU) that runs a customized real-time working system (RTOS), equivalent to the Bestechnic BES2700 present in the OnePlus Watch 2.

The thought behind this dual-chipset structure is that much less complicated workloads could be offloaded to the decrease energy MCU in order that the larger energy AP can sleep for so long as doable, maximizing the watch’s battery life. This strategy feels like an “obvious” means to enhance battery life, however the problem lies in how to really delegate workloads between two fully completely different chipsets operating two fully completely different working programs. That’s the place Wear OS’s new hybrid OS interface is available in.


The APIs offered by the hybrid OS interface. Source: Google.

Wear’s hybrid OS interface consists of APIs that allow the working system to seamlessly ship and obtain sure kinds of knowledge to no matter RTOS is accessible on the secondary chipset. These APIs fall underneath three broad classes: Display, Health Services, and Notifications. The Display APIs permit for handing off some show rendering duties to the MCU, which is probably going how watch faces constructed on the Watch Face Format are ready to be rendered on the MCU. The Health Services APIs allow offloading options like exact exercise monitoring, automated sports activities recognition, and well being knowledge monitoring to the MCU. Lastly, the Notifications APIs allow offloading the processing of bridged notifications (i.e., notifications synced out of your telephone) to the MCU.

The OnePlus Watch 2 takes full benefit of Wear OS’s hybrid OS interface to ship up to 100 hours of battery life in its default “Smart Mode.” Indeed, in Android Police’s assessment of the OnePlus Watch 2, we famous that the battery life on the watch is phenomenal, a press release I can personally attest to after having used the look ahead to the previous week. On the OnePlus Watch 2, the MCU is energetic each time you learn, dismiss, or work together with most notifications. It’s additionally energetic when you’re utilizing most watch faces or scrolling via most tiles. The watch seamlessly switches to the AP each time you launch an app or strive to entry sure performance. Thanks to the hybrid OS interface, you don’t need to hobble the watch’s fundamental performance simply to have nice battery life.

Left: Notifications are rendered on the MCU when you’re simply studying them.

Right: The smartwatch seamlessly switches to the AP when you faucet the notification to open a Wear app like Calendar.

Will the hybrid OS interface come to different Wear OS smartwatches?

Google’s hybrid OS interface is a recreation changer for Wear OS, which raises the apparent query of when (or if) these enhancements will come to different Android smartwatches like Google’s personal Pixel Watch 2. After all, the OnePlus Watch 2 isn’t the solely Wear OS smartwatch to have an MCU. The Pixel Watch 2 incorporates a dual-core ARM Cortex-M33 MCU from NXP Semiconductors, in accordance to a teardown from TechInsights. During the newest episode of the Android Faithful podcast (disclaimer: I’m certainly one of the co-hosts), Björn Kilburn, VP of Wear OS and Android Health at Google, answered a query about whether or not there are any {hardware} dependencies that may forestall these enhancements from reaching different watches.

In response, Björn answered that it “depends” lots on every particular person OEM’s underlying watch structure and their “power strategy.” He goes on to say that how a lot of the hybrid OS interface finally ends up being adopted by a selected OEM is determined by their underlying watch structure however that he “would not be surprised” if we don’t see extra OEMs undertake at the very least the notification hybrid interface.


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You could be disillusioned that Björn didn’t explicitly affirm whether or not or not the Pixel Watch 2 or different Wear OS smartwatches will obtain all the advantages of the new hybrid OS interface, however take into account that he’s accountable for the Wear OS platform as an entire and that every OEM in query will need to do their very own bulletins. Based on my understanding of the hybrid OS interface, there’s little question that OEMs can have to do some work to allow help for it on their very own gadgets, and that features the staff behind the Pixel Watch 2. Even although Wear OS now presents these new APIs, no matter customized RTOS is operating on the MCU wants to be able to using them. OnePlus/Oppo or Bestechnic clearly did the work to allow help on the BES2700 present in the OnePlus Watch 2, so presumably Google or NXP would need to do the similar for the Cortex-M33 MCU in the Pixel Watch 2.

A smartwatch with no band attached, next to its charger

Even in case your OEM doesn’t replace their smartwatch to take full benefit of Wear OS’s hybrid OS interface, Björn advised us that there are different energy enhancements in Wear OS 4 that the firm didn’t speak about throughout this launch. Plus, he famous that OEMs will give you different methods to obtain higher battery life that will or might not make use of the hybrid OS interface. After all, it feels like Oppo was closely concerned in contributing to the improvement of the notifications sub portion of the hybrid OS interface. Björn says that the Wear OS staff welcomes progressive options from its companions in the ecosystem, particularly in the event that they lead to extra “trustable battery life” for customers.

If you’re fascinated with listening to extra about the Wear OS hybrid OS interface, I extremely suggest listening to our full interview with Björn Kilburn, which I’ve embedded beneath. Our query to him about the hybrid OS interface coming to current watches begins at 21:00 in the VOD. If you’re a watch face developer, I additionally suggest listening to Björn’s response at 17:55 to my query about the Watch Face Format, as he explains a few of the limitations concerned in getting legacy watch faces to run on the MCU.

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