Samsung’s switch to Google’s Wear OS would be a big mistake

The smart watch Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

Photo: Victoria Song / Gizmodo

Rumors that Samsung can potentially get rid of Tizen, its proprietary operating system for wearable devices, for Google’s Wear OS, has been flying lately. It’s a puzzling ideaConsidering that Samsung smartwatches are the best Android-compatible smartwatches right now, and Wear OS is a stinking mess.

Case in point: from 9 to 5Google informs that the phrases “OK Google” or “Hey Google” to activate Google Assistant in Wear OS watches Has been broken for months. Google also confirmed The verge who was aware of this bug, which has been plaguing users since at least November 2020, and is working to fix it. While you can still use the Assistant by long-pressing the buttons (which is actually my preferred method of opening the Assistant in Wear OS), it’s telling that Google has known about the problem for so long and still hasn’t fixed it.

Wear OS has long been one of Google’s most neglected projects, but this is a new low. The main reason for choosing a Wear OS watch over a Fitbit or Samsung smartwatch is the native integration with Google Assistant and Google Pay. If you don’t mind quickly fixing one of the major selling points of your wearables platform, then I’m not sure I can say for sure that Wear OS is going to be around in the long run. And this is not the only case. In October, even Google put Wear OS second by choosing to launch a YouTube Music app for Apple Watch first. Worse yet, Google’s most recent updates for Wear OS were insignificant at best, with slightly better application load times and a weather tile As the marquee features.

This was all Wear OS had to offer in 2020. Compare that to Samsung’s blockbuster year, in which she absolutely took him out of the park with the Galaxy Watch 3. Right now, the Galaxy Watch 3 is the only other flagship smartwatch that can compete with the Apple Watch in almost every feature. Of course iIs not perfect. Some features like its FDA approved electrocardiogram app currently only available for Samsung smartphone owners. However, there really is no competition between the Galaxy Watch 3. and even the best of the best Wear OS watches I’ve ever tried.

To be fair, Samsung once used Wear OS, then Android Wear, on its smartwatches. But in 2014, it made the switch to Tizen with Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, probably for the same reasons that almost every other smartwatch maker besides Fossil did at the time: Google. Clunky UI, low adoption rate, and outdated Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip.

Then why, why Would Samsung go back to a platform that has yet to fix its things? I can think of a few reasons, but none are particularly good. Tizen doesn’t have a great ecosystem of third-party apps to begin with, and switching to Wear OS could open it up to more apps. But to be honest, Wear OS apps are underdeveloped. love, even if there is are more of them. For example, Spotify for Wear OS is a glorified remote, while Spotify for Tizen lets you use playlists offline. Google’s native Wear OS apps are fine at best, and frankly it’s strange than the built-in Google Fit training app actually now it’s divided into several different versions. Google Fit, even with newer updates, it’s also no better than Samsung Health, and having both installed on your watch is again tedious.

The other reason I could see Samsung making the switch it would be bringing the option of Google Assistant and Google Pay to Samsung watches. And that would be great because Samsung Pay is more restrictive to use than Google Pay, And who the hell likes Bixby? But Samsung need do everything possible in Wear OS to incorporate Assistant and Google Pay? Fitbit manage to have Google Assistant works on Fitbit OS, why not let Samsung do the same? (Of course, Fitbit likely has an Assistant because Google now owns the business.)

There’s a clear possibility that a Samsung Wear OS watch sucks less than any other Wear OS watch. But that’s mainly because Samsung could use its proprietary Exynos SoC instead of relying on Qualcomm, which is doing the bare minimum.. Also, while I’m sure Samsung’s rotating bezel navigation could carry over to a Wear OS watch, it wouldn’t be that great unless Google allowed Samsung to run a Wear OS skin (which is what Oppo did with its Wear OS clock). Tellingly, Wear OS was really decent in the Oppo watch because it didn’t look like or work like Wear OS. And at that point, what is the reason to switch from Tizen again?

It’s clear that Google gets more out of Samsung using Wear OS than vice versa. Samsung bringing its smartwatch innovations to that platform would suddenly make it relevant again– As long as all Samsung apps, including those that need FDA clearance, could make the leap without a hitch.

Except that wouldn’t do Wear OS any good. For that to happen, other watchmakers would have to figure out how to make the best use of Wear OS. Google would have to update the damn platform consistently with good non-incremental features that are just a blink on the radar. Qualcomm would have to figure out how to upgrade its portable SoC to Current process technology and do it more than once every two years. And that’s if Google doesn’t decide to updatefinish with everything now that you own Fitbit for do something completely different.

Android users, and not just those using Samsung smartphones, deserve a great smartwatch. This doesn’t seem like the best way to get one.


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