Wear OS badly needs to catch up with the Apple Watch's health features

Skagen Falster 2
Skagen Falster 2 (Image credit: Android Central)

Call smartwatches "dead" all you want (and I'll grant that they're not the most exciting topic these days), but I see them on more wrists than ever before — and the vast majority of them are Apple Watches. That's not just because of how many people carry an iPhone, or some dumb generalization about Apple fans, it's because the Apple Watch is genuinely useful in ways that other smartwatches just aren't.

There are plenty of better-looking Wear OS watches, but none of them can match the Apple Watch's health monitoring.

No, I'm not talking about that slightly creepy feature where you can feel someone else's heartbeat through the Taptic Engine. I'm talking about the myriad of health features that have only gotten better with the Apple Watch Series 4.

Both watchOS and Google's Wear OS feature workout routines and heart rate monitoring, but the Apple Watch isn't just about staying fit, it's about staying healthy. That goes beyond the breathing and standing reminders that people have poked fun at for years; the Apple Watch Series 4 notifies you when it detects spikes and irregular rhythms in your heart rate so that you can seek medical attention. It automatically alerts emergency contacts when it detects that you've taken a hard fall. It's the cheapest way to perform an electrocardiogram — even if it's an imperfect test.

For a full rundown of what the Apple Watch Series 4 is capable of, you're better off reading Rene Ritchie's review over at iMore, but suffice it to say, these are things that Wear OS watches simply don't offer. That's not a huge deal for someone like me who's fortunate enough to not have any outstanding health issues to worry about, but for others who do, the Apple Watch could potentially be a life-saving device, regardless of platform preference — if you ask me, Google needs to seriously step up its health monitoring features to compete.

That's not to say that Wear OS isn't still superior to watchOS in a number of other ways. Most people will agree that Google Assistant is far more useful than Siri, and you have dozens of options with Wear OS to best match your personal style — I'm a big fan of the Skagen Falster 2, in particular. Beyond hardware, I prefer the newly revamped minimalist Wear OS interface over watchOS, and you still can't even use a custom watch face on the Apple Watch … is that really asking too much, Apple?

What's your take on the Apple Watch Series 4 and its health-focused features compared to Wear OS? Is this sort of thing important to you, or are you happy to just receive notifications on your wrist — that is, if you even still use a smartwatch at all? Let us know in the comments below!

Hayato Huseman

Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.