Google, at its IO 2021 event, announced one of the biggest updates ever to Wear OS that powers wearables. One of the big surprise announcements was the unified wearable platform which will bring the best of Wear OS and Samsung’s Tizen OS that powers Samsung wearables. The company says that the all-new Wear OS apps on smartwatches will start faster while battery life, one of the most crucial aspects of a wearable, will also see enhancements.
This collaboration will mean that Google and Samsung will bring Wear and Tizen into a single unified platform. During the keynote, the company said that teams collaborated to make apps start up to 30 per cent faster on the latest chipsets powering smartwatches.
The company confirmed that the Google Play store would also be available on smartwatches. The good thing is that the new unified platform being built by Google and Samsung won’t be limited to these two manufacturers. Google, during the keynote, said that access to the platform will be given to other smartwatch manufacturers and won’t be limited to Samsung or Google devices.
Why a unified platform could be a good step ahead for Google
This could be a great move by both Google and Samsung by joining forces and bringing the best while taking on a common enemy: the Apple Watch and watchOS. With this platform being available for others, we can expect manufacturers to adopt the new unified platform over any wearable OS available in the market. But only time will tell whether the new unified platform will help Google take on Apple Watch’s dominance in the wearable segment.
Apple Watch has been leading the wearable segment by a big margin, and IDC data for Q4 2020 shipments show that Apple’s lead is growing. The data revealed that Apple Watch shipments rose over 45 per cent in one quarter and how a three-model approach – Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch Series 3 – is doing wonders for the company. Google is noticing the trend and wants to prepare itself before the first move. And, that may explain why the Pixel Watch wasn’t part of the keynote during IO 2021.
Considering both Samsung and Fitbit have good expertise in the wearable segment, this should give an edge to Google taking on the competition. A unified platform to take on Apple Watch dominance definitely seems a move in the right direction. Though, it may be too early to comment on who’s winning. We will have to wait for the Pixel Watch to see how the unified platform – developed with Samsung’s Tizen team – has helped Google overall.
Wear OS: What it looks like
During the keynote, Google showcased some consumer experiences like managing tasks with the watch with all-new navigation capabilities. A refresh for simple tasks like switching to your previous app has been made smooth. The company says users will be able to customise the home screen of the wearable running new Wear OS with Tiles from favourite apps like Calm and Sleep Cycle. Users will be able to choose what information they want at a glance and which actions they want to have just a swipe away.
Google is revamping its suite of apps, including Google Maps and Google Assistant for the Wear platform. Google Pay has also been confirmed to get a redesign and will add support for 26 new countries. YouTube Music has been announced to come to the Wear platform later this year. Finally, the Fitbit acquisition is now showing up, and the new Wear UI will use Fitbit’s expertise in health progress through the day.
At IO, Google has promised these updates will begin rolling out later this year. Starting with a unified platform developed with Samsung to an all-new consumer experience and fitness services from Fitbit. The company also announced that there are new apps for Wear OS that are arriving on Google Play.