Google just had it’s IO Developer Conference and it’s announced a massive upgrade to Wear OS, in fact Google calls it the “biggest update to wear OS update ever.” This is not an overstatement. The new Wear OS is built with a massive partnership from Samsung. Today they both announced that they are combining their own platform, Tizen OS, into Wear OS to make one OS for all android devices.
Of course we were all expecting them to do this last year when they announced that they had purchased Fitbit and they went all in on this today. Fitbit announced today that they will be bringing some of their latest fitness features to the platform and that they will be building their future high-end wearables on Wear OS.
As for Samsung, they announced today that future Galaxy wearables will be using the new Wear OS platform starting later this year, presumably on the rumoured Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch Active 4, but that previous devices will not be updated to the new OS and will only be suppported until three years from the initial release date. This is disappointing for customers like myself who purchased a previous wearable from Samsung, however, it’s not entirely surprising and I personally expected them to drop support after three years anyway.
So, now all of that’s out of the way, what is new in Wear OS. Google have announced that all Wear OS devices will now support third-party tiles, these will allow other developers to embed their experiences right into the home screen of devices should users choose to use it. These will be similar to the widgets that are available on current Samsung wearables from companies such as Spotify, which allows users to control their music directly from their wrist without having to use their phone.
We’re still gong to have to wait for a few months until the first devices with this new Tizen-Fitbit-Wear OS combination can be seen fully in August of this year but this has definitely shown that Google is becoming serious about competing with Apple in the wearables arena. However, it remains to be seen if they can compete or if this is going to be yet another fail from Google.