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.
Wear OS has superior developer support and Google Assistant — two things lacking from Tizen.
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.
Samsung Pay is far more convenient and feature-rich than what Google or Apple's doing.
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?