Skip to main content

Samsung and Google's Wear OS 3 secrecy has foiled its success this year

Despite the excitement back in early summer, 2021 will go down as yet another ho-hum year for Google's Wear OS platform. It didn't have to be this way, but Google seems to have some grand last-ditch effort planned that few know about — except for Samsung — and quite honestly, I've given up hope that Google will ever get things right at this point.

The unfortunate thing is that everything was lined up in Google's favor this year. The announcement and subsequent launch of the Galaxy Watch 4 reignited a flurry of interest in smartwatches on Android and has proven that Android users want a good smartwatch. It's just a shame that Samsung is still reserving some features only for people who use its smartphones.

The Apple Watch Series 7 is yet another boring, derivative update to Apple's already bland-looking square smartwatch and shows that, while Apple absolutely nailed the software and UX, the company is largely coasting on its success and monopoly within its own ecosystem.

But Google and Samsung seem to have made a rather alarming backroom deal that favors the Korean tech giant and has doomed the successes of Google's once-many hardware partners in the process.

Send us a savior

Wear OS 3, by most accounts, has been hailed as the savior of Android smartwatches. But the way Google has handled it, in partnership with Samsung, is proving to be a trainwreck in slow motion. Instead of debuting on the best Android smartwatches right away, Google partnered with Samsung on the Galaxy Watch 4 to give Samsung a roughly 6-month exclusive window to the latest OS update.

Wear OS's continuity across watch hardware used to be a strength. Ultimately, it's become the platform's greatest crux.

The reason for this is, almost assuredly, that Samsung has been the one carrying the torch for Android smartwatches. While that may be true on the sales front, there are plenty of non-Samsung users in the Android ecosystem. Wear OS 3 on Samsung's watches was a huge step in making them more usable on non-Samsung Android phones, but it's still an experience with limitations that shouldn't exist.

This is exactly why Google should have brought other players in from the get-go. As it stands, watches like the Fossil Gen 6 are unnecessarily hampered by a conspicuous lack of the latest OS — a bullet point on a spec list that looks awful by any metric.

What was once a strength of the Wear OS platform has become its biggest crux. That being, all Wear OS-powered smartwatches ran the same OS, with the same features and, primarily, the same look. No manufacturer could customize the OS in any meaningful way, although Google did allow slight color scheme modifications after some years.

Because of that, it made little sense to release a Pixel Watch when the only differentiating factor would be the hardware, as Chris Wedel put it in a recent article calling for Google to release the Pixel Watch already.

So while the timing would have been perfect, it seems Google had a bit more up its sleeve when it made a deal with Samsung over Wear OS 3 and its co-development.

Google's shady backroom deal with Samsung kept its other hardware players in the dark.

As former editor-in-chief Daniel Bader mentioned on Android Central podcast episode 542, we were made aware that Google and Samsung worked secretly on Wear OS 3 up until the public announcement at Google I/O 2021.

This source informed us that non-Samsung vendors, such as Mobvoi and Fossil, were not made aware of the new update until that public announcement. We've since contacted Mobvoi and Fossil, but neither company was willing to comment on the information given to Android Central.

Google's big gamble on 2022

All this spells something big on the horizon for Google. The company just launched the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, two phones with massive design changes from their predecessors and the first time Google used its own silicon in a phone.

Google is putting the pieces in motion for a massive smartwatch resurgence in early 2022.

Couple that with the announcement of Android 12L — a special flavor of Android specifically designed to enhance the tablet and foldable device experience — which is set to launch early next year along with "the next wave of foldables," as Google specifically put it.

Given that no Wear OS watch manufacturer has yet to confirm a specific launch date for Wear OS 3, it's highly likely that we won't see any of these watches ship a major update until early 2022. The magic six-month exclusivity window that Samsung seems to have netted itself also aligns nicely with the next big moves Google is making with Android and its following hardware, the Pixel Fold.

This takes us to a place I'm rather tired of hearing about but, unfortunately for my sanity, makes the most sense: a Pixel Watch will launch sometime early next year alongside (or near) the time that Wear OS 3 arrives on the rest of the watches from Mobvoi and Fossil.

But where does that leave Wear OS users right now? Floundering in the mud, of course, and it's sad to see Google treat its devoted users this way. Hoping for a New Years Resolution seems like a far-flung star that we've wished on for years, but, ultimately, it's all we've got right now.

While there's no real direct competition between Apple and Google in the watch segment — they are, of course, mutually exclusive to each OS — there's little doubt that Google has lost customers because of its wearables apprehension. So while 2021 could have been the breakthrough year for Wear OS 3 if Google played it right, 2022 seems like a decent second chance. And, hey, maybe Google will even have some juicy new Wear OS 3 FitBit tidbits to grace its users with.

Don't let us down, Google.



Source: androidcentral

Popular posts from this blog

FCC approves broadband 'nutrition labels' to help you shop for internet

The FCC is pushing nutrition labels for internet providers. What you need to know The FCC has voted to move forward with new rules for ISPs to display nutrition labels. The proposed rulemaking would mandate ISPs to display relevant speed and pricing information to consumers. This should make it easier for consumers to make an informed decision on their broadband. The FCC voted unanimously on a plan that would allow consumers to make better decisions about their broadband internet. The proposal will require internet service providers (ISPs) - including many of the best wireless carriers in the U.S. — to display "nutrition labels" that display relevant service information for consumers at point-of-sale. This includes internet speeds, allowances, and clear information on rates. "If you walk into any grocery store and pull boxes of cereal from the shelves, you can easily compare calories and carbohydrates," FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statemen

Yandex spins out self-driving car unit from its Uber JV, invests $150M into newco

Self-driving cars are still many years away from becoming a ubiquitous reality, but today one of the bigger efforts to build and develop them is taking a significant step out as part of its strategy to be at the forefront for when they do. Yandex — the publicly-traded Russian tech giant that started as a search engine but has expanded into a number of other, related areas (similar to US counterpart Google) — today announced that it is spinning out its self-driving car unit from MLU BV — a ride-hailing and food delivery joint venture it operates in partnership with Uber. The move comes amid reports that Yandex and Uber were eyeing up an IPO for MLU  last year. At the time, the JV was estimated to be valued at around $7.7 billion. It’s not clear how those plans will have been impacted in recent months, with COVID-19 putting huge pressure on ride-hailing and food-delivery businesses globally, and IPOs generally down compared to a year ago. In that context, spinning out the unit could

Slack’s new integration deal with AWS could also be about tweaking Microsoft

Slack and Amazon announced a big integration late yesterday afternoon. As part of the deal, Slack will use Amazon Chime for its call feature, while reiterating its commitment to use AWS as its preferred cloud provider to run its infrastructure. At the same time, AWS has agreed to use Slack for internal communications. Make no mistake, this is a big deal as the SaaS communications tool increases its ties with AWS, but this agreement could also be about slighting Microsoft and its rival Teams product by making a deal with a cloud rival. In the past Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has had choice words for Microsoft saying the Redmond technology giant sees his company as an “existential threat.” Whether that’s true or not — Teams is but one piece of a huge technology company — it’s impossible not to look at the deal in this context. Aligning more deeply with AWS sends a message to Microsoft, whose Azure infrastructure services compete with AWS. Butterfield didn’t say that of course

Xbox One S vs. Xbox One X: Which should you buy?

http://bit.ly/2v1agl5 We live and breathe tech, and also gaming, with every member of Windows Central rocking either an Xbox One console or PC gaming rig. We've compared and contrasted every iteration of Xbox One to bring you this guide. Xbox One X Raw 4K power From $299 at Amazon Pros Has thousands of games 4K media apps, Blu-ray discs, and games IR blaster for TV controls, Amazon Echo for voice controls Improved HDD speeds for faster loading times Cons More expensive at around $500 RRP Requires a 4K TV to get the most out of it The Xbox One X is the world's most powerful games console, running the latest games with the crispest, detailed visuals on TV sets with 4K HDR support. Xbox One S More affordable From $226 at Amazon Pros Has thousands of games 4K media apps and Blu-ray IR blaster for TV controls, Amazon Echo for voice controls More affordable at around $300 RRP Cons No 4K games Games run worse, even on a 1080p TV The Xbox One S i