When it comes to wearables and smartwatches, Android Wear is a step in the right direction. No, it’s not perfect – not yet anyway. The feeling is fairly uniform here at Pocketnow that Android Wear feels more like a “technology preview” than a final, polished product. All that having been said, I’m wearing my LG G Watch on my wrist right now. It pretty much lives there.
Products powered by Android Wear are currently available from LG and Samsung, and the Moto 360 should be coming soon. We’ve also heard of an Asus smartwatch and a round G Watch that we expect to see at IFA. All this is very good news for Android Wear, and for everyone who has already taken the plunge and strapped a Google-powered wearable on their wrist.
Unlike other smartwatches (including those powered by Samsung’s Tizen and Pebble), Android Wear takes a different approach. Apps are developed for your smartphone or tablet, just like they always have been, but can be extended to push additional functionality to your Android Wear device – if the developers so desire. There’s no special app store, or even any special apps (per se) for Android Wear, it just extends the apps that you already have and already use – or vice versa, depending on your perspective.
It’s clear that Google is putting a lot of emphasis on Android Wear, rightly so, and we’re seeing some very impressive hardware on the horizon. Were I a betting man, I’d put my money on Android Wear over any of the competition. I don’t think I’m alone in this sentiment.
That being the case, why is Samsung doubling down with Tizen?
Samsung has an impressive array of wearables for your wrist, including, but not necessarily limited to the Galaxy Gear, Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, Gear Fit, and most recently, the Gear Live – the latter runs Android Wear, the others do not. Part of that is because Samsung’s offerings pre-date Android Wear. It makes sense that Sammy had to “go it alone” and break the proverbial ice with its own OS for its wearables, but that’s not exactly what happened. Samsung toyed around with Android on a watch – Android, mind you, not Android Wear. Later, Samsung “updated” its Android-powered watch – by replacing Android with Tizen.
Remember back when the iPad was just taking off and all the Android OEMs were scrambling to put together a tablet powered by Android? Who was at the head of that pack? That’s right: Samsung. Google asked OEMs to back down, and wait for a version of Android that had been specifically developed for tablets. Many OEMs complied, and waiting until Android Honeycomb was released. Others pushed ahead with tablets powered by Android Gingerbread, despite Google’s warnings. Now we’re seeing something similar evolve out of devices with smaller screens, rather than the later ones found in tablets. Most OEMs are waiting for Google, but Samsung is out in front, doing its own thing – again.
Samsung is pushing the boundaries of what can be done with a smart watch, no question there, but to do so, it has had to forge its own path. Now that Android Wear is out, along with Samsung’s own watch powered by the OS, the Gear Live, I’d expected Samsung to let its own “proprietary” watches fade into history.
That’s apparently not what’s happening.
Rumors of a Gear 3 with Tizen to be announced at IFA have surfaced. According to our source familiar with the hardware, instead of the 1.6-inch flat square screen on the Gear 2, the Gear 3’s would be slightly rectangular, and a bit taller than the Gear 2 – with thin side bezels and a very pronounced curve to it. As far as software goes, since it’s said to be powered by Tizen, we’d expect iterative improvements upon what we’ve already seen on Samsung’s Gear line up.
Why is Samsung putting so much stock in Tizen? Since the company has already invested so much into Android development, isn’t developing for two operating systems splitting time and resources? You bet it is! But Samsung knows that Tizen is more lightweight than Android, and every bit as capable an OS (in theory, at least). Samsung also has more liberties to play with Tizen (and devices powered by that OS) than it does with Android or Android Wear. This lets Samsung experiment (on us) with rapid development cycles and numerous products almost simultaneously. Samsung is learning from this iterative process – and the industry is watching (no pun intended).
Even though I suspect Android Wear is going to win out in the mid- to long-term, Samsung is taking the lumps and learning the lessons for all of us with its devices – powered by its OS: Tizen.