Samsung and Google are rebuilding Wear OS to challenge the Apple Watch
Google’s software platform for smartwatches, Wear OS, hasn’t received much attention over the past few years. Even though Fossil, Mobvoi, and other manufacturers have continued to release new Wear OS devices, the underlying software has seen few updates recently. Third-party app development has also stalled, especially in comparison to the Apple Watch. Thankfully, all that could be changing, as Google is now working with Samsung to revamp Wear OS.
There has been speculation for months (and years, with less evidence) that Samsung would move away from its Tizen software for the Galaxy Watch series, and switch to Google’s Wear OS platform. Samsung only made one Wear OS watch in the past, the Gear Live in 2014, and all the company’s wearables since then have used Tizen.
Google announced at this year’s I/O developers conference that Samsung and Google are now collaborating on a “a unified platform built jointly with Samsung, combining the best of Wear OS and Tizen.” Samsung will use Wear OS on future Galaxy Watches, possibly with some apps ported from Tizen (perhaps Samsung Health, the Music app, and others).
Wear OS is also receiving a “world-class health and fitness service from Fitbit,” but specifics on that are limited right now. Google confirmed that there will be Wear OS watches from Fitbit in the future. Turn-by-turn navigation will also come to Wear OS soon, as well as new quick gestures for switching to the last application. Finally, YouTube Music for Wear is coming later this year, with offline download support.