Now you can WhatsApp from your Wear OS watch – no phone required

WhatsApp launches its first smartwatch app

WhatsApp on Wear OS
(Image credit: WhatsApp)

You’d be forgiven for thinking that everyone at Meta was currently working on Threads, but of course the company is much bigger than any one product – and there are tons of engineers working on apps such as WhatsApp to add new features.

The latest such update for WhatsApp is a big one if you have one of the best smartwatches: a dedicated Wear OS app.

We’ve known this has been coming for a while now, because it’s been in beta for several months. But this release is the finished product, and it looks like it’ll be a must-have for Wear OS.

WhatsApp on Wear OS: what you need to know

The app is designed for Wear OS 3, and is rolling out now to users worldwide, including Samsung Galaxy Watch owners – so if it isn’t in your local Google Play store just yet it won’t be long before it turns up. 

One of the key features here is that you can do lots of things without requiring to have your connected phone with you. You’ll be able to start new conversations, reply to messages and answer voice over IP calls on your smartwatch without having to reach for your phone.

The new Wear OS app is another indication that Meta is more focused on Android watches than on the Apple Watch. There’s no native WhatsApp app for Apple Watch, and that means users of Apple’s wearable don’t get the same experience as Android users do.

You can get around this a little bit by adjusting your notifications settings so that you’ll see and be able to respond to incoming messages, but there’s no equivalent to the phone-free VoIP option that the WhatsApp Wear OS app offers.

And WhatsApp isn’t the only firm with a renewed commitment to Wear OS. At Google’s I/O event earlier this year, the company showed improved apps from the likes of Spotify and Peloton, and of course Google itself has a vested interest in the OS. It also talked about updates to the key Google apps such as Gmail, Calendar and Google Home.

Google says that globally, Wear OS is the fastest-growing smartwatch platform, even though Apple is still the dominant one. Developers, though, are making their own minds up.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (