Google has released a YouTube Music app for the Apple Watch, which can only be described as self-owned … before creating an equivalent version for its own smartwatch platform, Wear OS.
This is impressive for several reasons. To get started, Google is working on deploying many YouTube Music integrations. Earlier this week, there were some major upgrades to YouTube Music on Android TV. In August, Google made it possible to play personal playlists from YouTube Music via the Google Assistant. As you can imagine, in both cases Google prioritized its own platform first. But that’s not the case with Wear OS.
Big Tech usually tends to push new features and updates to its own platform first. For example, Android users first got a set of more robust third-party integrations with the Google Assistant. iOS users have to wait. And Apple is, well, Apple. You know that it intends to prioritize its own ecosystem to hell first with everyone else. That’s why Google’s first push of the YouTube Music app for the Apple Watch is a pretty big starting point.
But given the situation in the smartwatch market, it’s not too surprising. On the one hand, you have an Apple Watch. Its most popular smartwatches are somewhere in 50-55% of the market, depending on which research institute is doing the calculations. This is often surprising given that 74% of the world’s mobile phones run on Android and the Apple Watch only supports iOS. In the first quarter of 2020, smartwatch sales actually increased by 20%, with Apple, Samsung and Garmin benefiting the most. Wear an OS … not so many. According to 9to5 Google, more Wear OS watches were sold in 2020 than in 2019, but their market share actually dropped from 23.7% to 22.6% in the first quarter of this year.
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However, what this really means is that iOS users often choose the Apple Watch. This is because the Apple Watch is really the best smartwatch option. The same is not true for Android users. Smartwatch options for Android are much more fragmented, and for years there has been no real Apple Watch alternative that Android users can truly lag behind. Samsung’s closest and latest flagship, the Galaxy Watch 3, is probably the only Android smartwatch that can be toe-matched with Apple. The problem is that I don’t run Wear OS. It runs Samsung’s own OS, Tizen, saves the best features for Samsung users and puts non-Samsung users at a disadvantage.
In short, Android users are often divided into Samsung and fitness-focused smartwatches that run their own operating systems, such as Garmin and Fitbit options. In fact, Fitbit Sense is the only Android-enabled flagship smartwatch that can compete with the Apple Watch. Again, this doesn’t work on Wear OS.
2019 was a bit sluggish when it came to the new flagship smartwatch, but 2020 was a whole different story. Samsung has made a powerful appearance on the Galaxy Watch 3. Fitbit also seems to have done miracles on the Sense, Versa 3, and Inspire 2. Both companies have caught up with Apple and obtained US Food and Drug Administration approval for clinical electrocardiogram function. .. Garmin has released the Forerunner 745, Polar has revamped the Vantage line and introduced a very good entry-level smartwatch at Unite. By comparison, wearing the OS completely shuts the bed.
Qualcomm is expected to announce the new Snapdragon Wear 4100 chip to improve the Wear OS watch experience, but Mobvois TicWatch Pro 3 is the only smartwatch available this holiday season. Fossil is the most prominent manufacturer of Wear OS. Watches will launch a slightly cheaper version of the Gen5 watch lineup with the latest generation processor, the Snapdragon Wear 3100. This means that the earliest actual progress in Wear OS watches will be in the spring of next year. The update Google released for Wear OS this fall was overwhelming, focusing on streamlining the interface rather than enabling the advanced features expected of its flagship smartwatch.
It’s not that Google isn’t aware of the value of wearables. The Fitbit acquisition is proof, like all lip services you pay for ambient computing. It just takes time to actually improve Wear OS. If your regulator approves your Fitbit deal, it may be easier to discard it and start anew at this point.
In the meantime, even Google seems to know that there’s little to be gained by putting Wear OS first. That’s sad. That’s because Android users, especially those who don’t have a Samsung phone, have the fewest choices when it comes to good smartwatches. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to change anytime soon.
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