During Google’s I/O event, the company finally addressed the elephant in the room: Wear OS.
Google’s acknowledgement of the near-dormant Wear OS platform didn’t just come in the form of an update announcement however – the company blew the doors off with a major overhaul that could be just the ticket to get fans excited again and to finally take the competition directly to Apple.
The biggest announcement of the event was that Google would be partnering with Samsung to deliver what they call a ‘unified system’. Tizen and the Galaxy Watch range have long been a thorn in Wear OS’ side, arguably offering a better overall experience than what any Google-infused smartwatch could offer, but through this partnership, Google has not only removed one of its main competitors, but it’s also openly embraced the components that people enjoy in Samsung’s wearables.
For instance, Tizen has never had quite as many apps as Wear OS, but it does have killer features like offline music playback via Spotify – something not even the Apple Watch 6 doesn’t have. If the next line of wearables from the likes of Fossil or Skagen can feature the best of both worlds, in addition to the stylish designs that these companies are known for, then the competition could be over.
Still, one problem that smartwatches across the board have had to deal with is a waning interest from developers. Wearables are no longer the new frontier they once were, and the stagnation of platforms like Wear OS haven’t exactly inspired innovation, while wearable support from companies like Evernote has dried up altogether.
It seems as Google has finally taken note of this issue, making it clear that one of the main facets of this new Samsung partnership is in allowing Wear OS to be more accessible to developers, cutting back the red tape so that developers can begin making Wear OS tiles and apps with ease.
Those changes alone would probably have been enough to give the new Wear OS a major kickstart, but it was the final announcement of Fitbit’s part to play that served as the conclusion to what it now a triple threat approach to dethroning the Apple Watch.
Having tested almost all the all of latest Fitbit wearables, I can easily say that no other company does on-the-go motivation like Fitbit. Even after finishing my review, I kept using the Fitbit Versa 3 for months thereafter due to the sheer simplicity of its metrics and achievements, the very features which are now headed to Wear OS.
While these additions might not be the thing to poach users away from hardcore fitness brands like Garmin and Coros, it’s not hard to imagine new Wear OS watches being the go-to devices for anyone looking to make positive changes towards their health, particularly if they’re also getting an abundance of smart features for their money.
Only time will tell if Google and Samsung’s partnership can really stick the landing, but if the long-rumoured Pixel Watch arrives later this year as an example of what can achieved with the new platform, then this could be the first time that the Apple Watch is bested by the competition.