OK, before I get into this, I'm aware that the idea of Google making a kids mode for Wear OS seems like a bit crazy considering the platform has been stale for years now — but with a refresh on the horizon, the idea isn't as far fetched as it once was. Google has been making a more significant push in building out parental features with Family Link, and gaining new features and adding new products like Kids Space for tablets — so why not continue that expansion into Wear OS?
Last Fall, when Apple announced Family Setup for Apple Watch, I began hoping that Google or Samsung would soon follow suit. If you're unfamiliar with Family Setup, it makes an Apple Watch with cellular connectivity capable of operating independently from an iPhone, making it an excellent option for families who may not be able to afford an iPhone for their child, or whose child may not be responsible enough to entrust with such a device.
Family Link is already primed to handle many of the features I'd want for managing my childs wearable.
When an Apple Watch is in this mode, it can make phone calls, messages, track activity, and carry out many more of the watch's features, and the parent can monitor the child's usage. Many of these features are already a part of Family Link for the same great Android phones for kids; they just need to be extended to a watch. This would allow families already in the Google ecosystem to continue utilizing the devices and apps they are already familiar in conjunction with a wearable for their child rather than a smartphone.
While there are some excellent kids smartwatches on the market, like the TickTalk 4, having an option that works within the framework that Google has built would be fantastic — and now is the perfect time for this to become a reality.
With the announcement that Wear OS is getting an overhaul and that Samsung will be making a Wear OS smartwatch — not to mention the rumors of a forthcoming Pixel Watch — adding a kids mode now makes sense. Though we don't know what to expect in terms of hardware from Google and a Pixel Watch, we've seen what Samsung is capable of.
Samsung has been making LTE variants of its watches like the Galaxy Watch 3 for years now, and the company also has parental control features for its phones as part of its Kids Home platform. While it's slim pickings when trying to find an LTE-enabled device in the current crop of Wear OS devices, that could change this Fall when we hopefully get to see what Samsung and Google are cooking up.
Google and Samsung are putting their collective force behind making Wear OS relevant, and it would be great to see a kids mode be part of this rebuild. It makes sense that Apple could offer kids the chance to use its wearable first, given its control over the hardware and software — but their implementation still needs work. This just means that the stage is set for Samsung and Google to do what Apple traditionally does — be second and be better.