Strava Is Leaving Older Android Smartwatches in the Dust

Strava Is Leaving Older Android Smartwatches in the Dust
Strava's move to stop supporting older builds of Wear OS could catch on with other app makers. (Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo)

Samsung and Google’s upgraded smartwatch platform, Wear OS 3, is an exciting release for Android users. It’s the first time in years the wearables platform has felt like a cohesive ecosystem, helped in part by the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, which are the first watches to run Wear OS 3.

Now that watches running the new platform are here, some well-known apps are pushing out updates to become compatible. But the result has left some older smartwatches in the dust.

Strava, a social app for tracking running and cycling, has offered a standalone version of its app for Wear OS users since 2017. The watch app lets you track your activity on your wrist without your smartphone in tow. Strava recently updated its Wear OS app to support Wear OS 3, but the company added a caveat on its support page: Older Wear OS watches will no longer receive Strava software updates.

In a statement to Android Police, which was tipped off by a reader to the change, Strava doubled down on its move away from the legacy wearables software:

Last week we released a new Strava app for Wear OS 3.0. Moving ahead we won’t be releasing new updates to our app for Wear 2.XX — but Strava will continue to be available and will continue to work on Wear 2.XX. All new updates will be made to the Strava app for Wear OS 3.0.

Strava will continue to function, but it will no longer receive new features. It’s unclear if a similar fate will befall the version of Strava for older Tizen-based Galaxy Watches. Regardless, Strava’s latest move could signal a shift for Wear OS apps. Older Android smartwatches might be outta luck when it comes to app updates, and some apps might cease to function altogether.

Google has already listed the smartwatches that will be compatible with Wear OS 3 when it rolls out more widely in 2022. That list includes Mobvoi’s GPS and LTE TicWatch Pro 3, the TicWatch E3, future TicWatch devices, as well as the next generation of Fossil smartwatches.

Google has also said the current version of Wear OS isn’t going anywhere, at least until more users got the upgrade or hardware that could accommodate it. Google even said it was committed to bringing “new app experiences” to Wear OS 2. But it’s hard to justify sticking with an older Android smartwatch if some big-name apps are already planning to leave it behind.

Migrating a mass of users from one platform to another isn’t easy. Although Google was transparent about how it would be changing course with Wear OS 3, it also made it seem like users could take their time before upgrading. But if app developers choose to go all in with Wear OS 3 before more next-gen Android watches are even available, then the transition might be bumpier than expected.