Can Google and Samsung’s Wear OS take on the Apple Watch? It’s complicated

See the os on a smartwatch

James Martin / ClearTips

Google had big ambitions with its wearable software, Wear OS. But over the years, it has stabilized and Apple has Even greater leadership In the global smartwatch market. A new partnership with Samsung Announced at Google I / O on Tuesday, Wear OS may receive the necessary attention to remain relevant. But it won’t catch Apple until it takes seriously some of the biggest issues that have plagued its smartwatch over the years.

Here are the things Google’s new Wear OS needs to do to be a viable competitor to the Apple Watch.

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Battery life that lasts more than a day

Battery life is the first major complaint from most users about Wear OS. Although it depends on the specific clock, its processor and usage patterns, some Wear OS watches I’ve worn have struggled to bring me from breakfast to dinner. Add a resource-intensive task like a GPS workout and it’s not uncommon to see your battery life getting even lower. You should not just turn off facilities or nix notifications for the day.

While Google has not provided any specific numbers beyond the usual “better battery life” spec for its next generation of watches, at least it is on the radar. The Apple Watch Series 6 can last around two days with a raise-to-wake enabled rather than always-on display, so the benchmark is not particularly high.

Fast performance and Google apps that work as intended

Wear OS watches have been, overall, very slow. Even basic smartwatch functions such as scrolling through menus or getting up and down can take ages. The exceptions are: Tickwatch Pro 3 addresses some of these performance issues as it is running Qualcomm’s latest chip, the 4100 Plus. But if you’ve used the Wear OS watch in the past, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Samsung’s current watches use their own Exynos processors. While we don’t yet know which chipset the new Wear OS watches will use, it makes sense to leverage the power of what Exynos can already do in terms of cellular connectivity and performance.

See the os on a smartwatch

James Martin / ClearTips

Then there is the question of Google apps. Google’s biggest strength from Android is the power of its assistant. But when it comes to ware OS, it misses the mark. The “OK Google” wake phrase took months to recover when users reported that it had stopped working, and even basic tasks, such as using an assistant to send text messages, hit And may be missed. Thankfully, it looks like we’ll eventually get offline YouTube music support and we’ll be able to use Google Maps without a phone, but a lot of it seems like a catch-up for the features we should have gotten years ago Were.

Health and fitness tracking that stands out

Most Wear OS watches do not really focus on health facilities. Wear OS can burn calories with standard accessories such as track basic workouts and Google Fit. But third-party apps have had to fill a lot of gaps for those looking for specific training programs such as fitness focus.

Apple’s health and fitness tracking is incredibly strong, not only with its intuitive system rings and workout programs such as Fitness plus, But also potentially Life saving features Such as fall detection on Apple Watch.

Fitbit, now a part of Google, has really strong sleep and fitness tracking, as well as a great social component for its users. The Fitbit app is also one of the best to help you interpret your fitness metrics and give an overall picture of your health goals. The new Wear OS will have a Fitbit app that will bring activity snapshots and exercise modes, but will not yet have heart rate tracking or sleep tracking. And at the moment, the health platforms of Google Fit and Fitbit are not merging.

Ware OS also lags behind medical-grade sensors such as electrocardiograms (ECGs or EKGs). While both Samsung and Fitbit added an ECG app to their flagship watches in 2020, it came two years after Apple rolled out on the Apple Watch Series 4. And in the case of Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 and Watch Active 2, the ECG only works. If you have a Samsung Galaxy phone. (It is worth noting that the Wear OS that runs the Oppo Watch has ECG, but that version was only introduced in China.)


Oppo Watch.


Better access so more people can use Wear OS

Apple announced on Wednesday assistive Touch, A feature that allows people using only one hand to control the Apple Watch. You can use gestures such as pinching or clinching to control clock functions. It will debut in the next version of WatchOS, which is likely to debut in the fall.

Wear OS has some accessibility features such as TalkBack, which lets you listen to audio feedback so that you don’t have to see the screen, but more.

Take the best parts of all three ecosystems: Google, Samsung and Fitbit

This is the biggest strength of the new Wear OS partnership, but also the biggest potential risk. How do you integrate three completely different platforms and take the best part of them all to create the ultimate smartwatch experience, or as ClearTips’s Scott Stein said, Justice league of wearablesThe

Take Samsung’s Tizen accountability, Fitbit’s fitness tracking and battery-life management, as well as Wear OS and Google’s third-party app support could be the winner. But this is a big challenge. Let’s hope the new Wear OS meets expectations.

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