Today, Google’s Android-based smartwatch platform—Wear OS—seems like a dead end. It’s currently third in the smartwatch market, after the Apple Watch and Samsung’s Tizen-based “Gear S” watches. On the software side of things, Google hasn’t been iterating on Wear OS quickly enough. The last major update—Wear 2.0—was roughly 18 months ago, and Google I/O 2018 came and went without a peep about a new update. On the hardware side of things, Wear OS hardware is awful. The market’s biggest SoC vendor, Qualcomm, has shown it isn’t really interested in the smartwatch market and only offers a slow, hot, old smartwatch SoC based on manufacturing technology from 2013.
Wear OS might soon have a saviour though, at least when it comes to hardware. Venerable smartphone leaker Evan Blass claims Samsung employees are sporting Samsung smartwatches running “not Tizen, but Wear OS.” Samsung might be coming to save Wear OS.
Samsung’s superior hardware
Qualcomm isn’t investing in smart watches, and with a near monopoly on the SoC market, anyone beholden to Qualcomm’s lineup is not going to be able to produce a competitive smartwatch. Most of the usual Android OEMs are aligned with Android Wear, but with no new smartwatch chips, they all mostly stopped making new smartwatches. It just so happens that the two smartwatch market leaders, Apple and Samsung, aren’t beholden to Qualcomm—they have their own chip-design facilities, and they regularly update their smartwatches with new SoCs using state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies.