Google and Samsung Claim to Be Merging Wear OS and Tizen Into a Unified OS for Watches

Chris Welch, reporting for The Verge last week during I/O:

Yesterday brought the momentous news that Google and Samsung will merge together their Wear OS and Tizen-based smartwatch platforms into a single operating system. The new software is currently being referred to as Wear, but that name could change as we get closer to the first devices that will ship with it.

The unified platform is intended to give Android smartwatches a huge boost and much simpler strategy. It will also allow developers to create apps and widgets for a single OS instead of splitting their efforts between Wear OS and Tizen.

Good luck, I say, and I mean it. Apple Watch needs competition, because right now there’s very little.

Think about how much more cohesive Apple’s Watch platform has been from the get-go compared to Google’s and Samsung’s. Yes, the initial Apple Watch release was a little uncertain about what to focus on. Apple spent a lot of effort promoting Apple Watch as a platform for personal communication — sharing heartbeats with loved ones, scribbling notes to each other, stuff like that. They were also bizarrely focused on third-party apps for the Watch despite the fact that their initial WatchOS SDK was total garbage — slow, buggy, and borderline useless. They also debuted with a foolish line of $5–20K solid 18-karat gold Edition models.

Those were false starts, but Apple never needed to reverse course with Apple Watch. They just needed to identify and focus on what Apple Watch was best for: notifications and fitness/health tracking. (And Edition models made from more practical materials, like ceramic and titanium.) Forget about the bad ideas, double down on the good ones. But those good ideas, the things people love about Apple Watch today, were all right there from the start. Today’s Apple Watch — both hardware and software — is clearly a refined version of what debuted six years ago.

Meanwhile, Google and Samsung are merging two totally different OSes. None of Apple’s smartwatch competitors have made anything even vaguely approaching iconic hardware designs. And Samsung, we’re supposed to believe, is OK with competing manufacturers benefitting from this new Wear OS/Tizen merged platform based at least in part on Samsung’s work.

What a mess.

Saturday, 29 May 2021