Wearable tech came out with quite a unique boom. It was in the early 2010s that wearable devices were the centre of attention. From Galaxy Gears to Tick Watches to the first Apple Watch. It was turning out to be one of the most revolutionary time in technology for a long time. Perhaps this is what led other wearables like Fitbit manufacturers to lodge phone assistive tech in their devices.
In the beginning, these watches had little use. Even the people buying them had their priorities confused since they didn’t really know what to do with them. All these devices did was display incoming messages and calls.
Since then, these devices have come a long way. From having voice controls to being able to answer calls. From reading texts to actually replying to them. If you ask me, wearables have revolutionised the way we interact with our cellular devices and no one can deny that. Perhaps the reason why these devices have gone stagnant is that they have pretty much served their purpose. There isn’t much we can get out of them. To think, the Apple Watch has saved people from going into cardiac arrest. What more could we want from them?
WearOS Over the Years
Android first introduced WearOS under the brand name, Android Wear. The first wearable devices to showcase the platform was the Samsung Gear Live.
The platform developed steadily over the course of about 5 years. Initially, the watches could not do much. Besides push notifications, users could just use these devices like watches. As time passed though, more and more features came up. Things like wrist gestures to display time or workout progress, WiFi support for the watches to function as standalone devices. Eventually, standalone Bluetooth connectivity arrived at the platform as well. To make the watches more customisable, custom watch face APIs were included as well.
But, in all of these features, the whole Smart Watch wearing trend was coming to a close. To be very honest, it was inevitable. In today’s busy day and age, people barely have time to recharge their phones. Adding another device to the lot just makes them neglect these devices. Perhaps, a smart thing all manufacturers did was to create “Active” versions of their watches to attract the Gym Rats out there. But again, this is a small percentage of the overall demographic. While people may mention the rising popularity of the Apple Watch, making it the most popular wearable smart watch in the market, it has a completely different marketing plan.
Coming back to WearOS. Back in 2018, the platform Android Wear was rebranded as WearOS. We then saw a completely revamped UI and features. The idea with WearOS was to separate the watch from the primary cellular device. Features like call answering and text replying helped in making these smart watches a good replacement for the occasional phone being pulled out of the pocket.
It has been two and a half years since the WearOS came out. While the platform held great potential for growth, it failed to make its mark. There haven’t been any major developments in the operating system. Such is the case that multiple industry manufacturers have pulled out to opt for other operating systems. Although it would be unfair to say that they shifted because WearOS wasn’t up to the mark because most of their replacement operating systems are built on the same foundations as the WearOS itself.
These new developments with manufacturers like Samsung pulling out of the WearOS ecosystem have put a weird pressure on the sector. Today we see WearOS only in a handful of devices, most of which are restricted to a certain market only. Although readers would not like to hear this but this points towards the downfall of the operating system. It is now quite clear that Apple’s device and the WatchOS have surpassed all industry competitors but where does it leave the WearOS. Perhaps, in my opinion, at the current stay, the operating system is going down the drain. Unless some revolutionary steps aren’t taken to conserve it, there is nothing that can be done.
There are very clear signs that mark the operating system slowly moving towards its demise. A bunch of apps have ended support for WearOS. Just recently we saw the news that Nest has ended support for WearOS. Therefore, whenever users now start the App, it reads the following message
Nest is no longer supported for WearOS. Go to Play Store to uninstall the App.
I believe the reason for this step was simply increasing productivity. While the company like Nest could have continued to develop apps for the operating system, it would require a separate division of developers to work on. Now, these companies have access to data which shows the number of users running their app on WearOS. I believe seeing those numbers, they found it is cheaper to just stay limited to Mobile Devices. I fear, this stagnating nature of the operating system, Google’s negligence, may lead to the demise of the platform altogether.
In my opinion, this is wear (sorry for the Pun) Google should come in. Being the parent company behind WearOS, Google can enter the market with a cheaper alternative device that runs the operating system. Now Questions may arise, why? Why cheap? Well, for starters, not a lot of people are interested in these watch wearables anymore.
Now, given that a new product does come to the market and it is in fact by Google, I think it would make the mark and peak people’s interest. Not only that, but Google’s minimalist design would definitely compliment the OS. The reason for making it a cheap product would be to attract more users to this side of the tech world. Currently, most smart watches are either too expensive or aren’t really giving much usability or functionality. With this solution, people may get more inclined towards them again. Giving better battery life and sticking to the basic features and not forcing new experimental stuff may actually work well for the platform.