Smartwatches aren't quite as popular as they were a couple years back, but in 2018, that may start to change. Google appears to be prepping its own Pixel Watch, Qualcomm's working on all-new processors for wearable devices, and Samsung's getting ready to release the Galaxy Watch.
Today, I'd like to take a moment to talk about what Samsung's doing.
Rumors have been piling up for the Galaxy Watch as of late, and should they turn out to be true, Samsung could have one of 2018's best smartwatches. Here's why.
The Wear OS rumors and why this would be huge
First thing's first, the biggest and most interesting aspect of the Galaxy Watch is that it may use Wear OS instead of Samsung's own Tizen operating system.
Tizen is what powers gadgets like the Gear S3, Gear Sport, and Gear Fit 2. It's not a bad OS by any means and has seen a lot of improvements over the years, but the developer support just isn't there when compared to competing platforms.
With Wear OS, there's no shortage of apps to choose from — including Spotify, Google Maps, Nest, Lifesum, Uber, Delta, and many more. Along with that, there's a massive selection of both paid and free watch faces to help you find the look that's right for you.
Those are two things Tizen just can't offer, but that's not all Wear OS would bring to the table.
S Voice is Tizen's voice assistant of choice at the moment, and while there's a report that Samsung will bring along Bixby with the Galaxy Watch, Wear OS is also home to the vastly superior Google Assistant.
Whether you need to send off a quick text, start your workout playlist, or simply check the weather, the Google Assistant is still miles ahead of Samsung's own efforts in the assistant space.
Along with all that, Wear OS is just easier to use. There are still some kinks here and there that Google needs to work out, but the user experience is still much simpler to understand and navigate compared to the often confusing setup of Tizen.
All of that would only be better with Samsung Pay
The addition of Wear OS would be a huge plus for the Galaxy Watch, but that does leave one big question unanswered — what would happen to Samsung Pay? We've yet to see a smartwatch not running Tizen support the mobile payment system, and while it does work on Android phones, this is only true if they're made by Samsung.
Google's trying to push Google Pay as much as it can, but if Samsung's willing to drop Tizen in favor of Wear OS, maybe that's a big enough bargaining chip for Google to allow Samsung Pay.
If so, the Galaxy Watch would offer one of the best mobile payment solutions around. Not only does Samsung Pay reward users with points for each transaction they make, but if Samsung can fit an MST chip inside the Galaxy Watch as it did with the Gear S3, that would enable the Galaxy Watch to make payments at virtually any store — no matter if they support NFC or not.
I'm even more skeptical about this happening than I am with the Wear OS rumors, but this wouldn't necessarily be unheard of. Samsung showed that it was willing to open up Samsung Pay to all Android users with the Gear S3, so if it can make a deal with Google, there's no reason why we couldn't see the service brought over to a Samsung-made Wear OS watch.
Samsung's still experimenting with its hardware
Samsung may not have the best setup on its hands when it comes to Tizen, but in regards to unique hardware design, this is something it's been consistently great at.
Even though it's now three years old at this point, the rotating bezel mechanism first introduced on the Gear S2 is still one of the best ways to interact with any smartwatch. It blends seamlessly into the design of a watch and feels much more natural than tapping away on a tiny touchscreen.
One report claims that Samsung's working on a "new UX interaction" for the Galaxy Watch, and while it's still unclear what exactly this means, it suggests Samsung's not done coming up with new and exciting ways for us to use our smartwatches. Will this be a continuation of the rotating bezel? Maybe something else entirely new? Whatever it is, I can't wait to go hands-on with it.
Also, in addition to the typical heart rate sensor, the Galaxy Watch may pack a built-in blood pressure measurer. This is certainly more of a niche feature, but it'd be a huge plus for people that are big into health-tracking and want to keep tabs on their body at all times.
Are you excited for the Galaxy Watch?
I'm still anxious to see what Google has up its sleeves with the Pixel Watch later this year, but based on the recent talk about the Galaxy Watch, Samsung might have something to steal the thunder away from Google.
Assuming Wear OS, Samsung Pay, and the new hardware features come together like I'm hoping, the Galaxy Watch would easily become the go-to choice for Android users looking for a new wearable.
However, seeing as how all of this is just rumors and speculation at this point, there's no telling what Samsung will do.
In any case, what are you looking forward to the most with the Galaxy Watch?
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I'm interested. I've been using the gear s3 for a couple of years. The lack of regular android apps, like Google maps, is frustrating. I'd only be interested in a new watch if it keeps the mst co with wear OS. Also continue with excellent battery life.
I'm with you about the MST and would like Google maps. I won't even consider another smartwatch without MST. But I've been happy with tizen and personally don't need 500 apps on smartwatch. I would just like to see other messaging apps available on tizen besides stock.
A few weeks ago I bought a Gear Sport smartwatch to replace my aging Moto 360. I was very impressed how well the Tizen OS works, and I'd personally like Samsung to keep using it over Android Wear OS.
No rotating bezzle, no buy.
Hear, hear. For me, this new watch would need to maintain the chunky size of the S3.
I've been hoping for wear OS on Samsung's gear S3 like hardware. I'd they make this and it works seamlessly, I'll be sold.
If the Galaxy Watch has Samsung Pay, and if Samsung Pay is available on non-Samsung phones, I'm interested. Otherwise, probably not
The Galaxy Watch would need two things to get my attention: Wear OS and 2 weeks battery life. Catching up with current tech, that is. As for Google Assistant, it has been notoriously unable to send texts ever since Google Now was retired, and Google is in no rush to fix it. Rather than feed Google's big data, I'd rather have a watch that allows me to communicate with people.
Two weeks of battery life is probably a long ways out since even basic activity trackers like a Fitbit struggle to get a week. I'd be happy with three or four but, honestly, I am OK with charging every night. The trouble with my Gear Live is that, even when new, I wasn't sure to get a full day without some optimization and those came with trade-offs.
I got 2 weeks of battery from my Qualcomm Toq in 2014. No Wear OS, but I had customizable notifications, Google Maps navigation, making and taking calls, dictating texts etc. And a transflective screen which was just stunning in sunlight. Not sure how power hungry Wear OS itself is, but Samsung could try to pack a better screen in there.
That's because of the e-ink type display. There are still a few around, apparently, but tend to be far less feature-rich than those with LED/LCD displays (which are a serious drain on battery life, of course).
What current tech for a watch or phone has 2 weeks of battery life? Perhaps your expectations are vastly unrealistic... for a few years at least.
I'm still using my Samsung Gear Live from way back in 2014. It is showing the years but I can still make it through a day on a charge (most of the time) and it has all the features I want. I've been looking to upgrade for awhile but none of the early watches with the 2100 chip blew my skirt up and by the time something that did check all my boxes came out I started hearing rumbling about a new chipset this year. For me though, it's Wear OS or bust.
Smartwatches are not as popular as they were a couple of years ago?! What are you basing this statement on? I may get a Samsung watch if it is Wear OS, and LTE with a user replaceable card. Three reasons I sold my Gear S and moved to Wear OS were: * very few apps in the app store * Samsung deciding to use eSIMs instead of user replaceable sim cards after the Gear S * sHealth holding my fitness data hostage, and being dependent on sHealth due to fewer apps eSIMs are not user friendly. I can’t shop around for the cheapest MVNO but have to stick to the big 3, then, when I upgrade, have the headache of trying to sell it to someone who may not be able to register it. Apps: I use a bunch that fit my specific needs. Wear OS selection of apps is visibly growing, while Tizen’s app store never made a dent in the year I’ve had the Gear S. Fitness data: I like the option to use what I want, be it Google Fit or any other app of my choosing. With Tizen, you have fewer apps so are more likely to default to sHealth. You will NEVER be able to port that data to another service if you decide to switch from Tizen to something else.
I hear you as to the eSIM concerns.
And in 4 months we'll be saying could the Galaxy watch 2 be the smartwatch we've all been waiting for.
I would like to see Google Assistant in the next Samsung watch. Even Bixby would be better than the awful S Voice, but GA is preferred. I don't get the big deal about app selection. Google Maps would be nice to have, but most apps are useless on the wrist. Apple has great app support on the Apple Watch and most of them are useless on the watch. You end up using your phone anyway after a few minutes of frustration. Maybe I'm the only one that feels that way though. I liked my Gear S2 and like my S3 even more. Battery life is more than enough. I only drop mine on the charger for about 30 minutes everyday while I get ready for work. That's all I need to keep mine going all week. I don't need a two week battery. I'll take it when we get there, but it's not a priority. Give me GA and maybe Maps and I will buy the next one. Don't take away my rotating bezel either!
From your list of apps, I use Spotify and Uber on my Gear S3 watch, almost daily. Tizen also has an overwhelming supply of free and paid for watch faces. I'd love to know the UI and navigation issues that the author has with the current Gear lineup. With the rotating bezel, I found it super easy from day 1. I love my Gear S3 and this article makes me think that the author hasn't really used one, based on the misinformation and a time that seems to bash it simply because it doesn't use the Google-backed OS.
I 100% agree with your whole comment! The author has obviously not spent much time with the Gear S3. I have had the Huawei Watch (my hubby has the HW 2), the original Gear S, S2 and now the Gear S3. The gear S3 is far superior as far as usability and the rotating bezel really makes a difference. The lack of apps is something to think about but Tizen is a great smartwatch OS.
I didn't buy a Samsung watch strictly because of Tizen. When I moved from the Galaxy S3 to the Google Nexus 5 (and then to the Pixel and Pixel 2) I walked away from Samsung dogs breakfast of bloat wear forever. I strongly dislike the way they build and support software and that little ecosystem of inferior and intrusive apps and features they smash down our throats and don't allow us to uninstall. Out of fear Tizen would be the same way and the risk that a Samsung phone owner would get even a slightly better experience than a non Samsung owner, I wouldn't touch a non Wear OS Watch with a 10 foot pole. Especially once you toss in Samsungs abysmal software update history, including security updates and their lack of developer support. I'm sure, just like their phones, regardless of their internals, the device glitches and lags after a week.
You clearly don't know what your talking about. And if you had actually used the gear s3, or Note 8, S8, S9 series you would know that the phones don't lag if treated properly, like ALL smartphones.
If all the rumors are correct and a Wear OS watch is in the cards it will be a very exciting year for Android wearables. I will be buying a Wear OS watch in 2018, the question is who's gonna get my money? Google, LG or Samsung? Or is another maker going to come back into the frey? A Ticwatch Pro + with the new snapdragon 3100 would also be a contender. But I also won't touch a watch with the 2 year old 2100 in it.
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