Over the past few months, multiple rumors and leaks have claimed that Samsung is ditching the in-house Tizen-based software in favor of Google’s Wear OS for its upcoming smartwatch portfolio – tentatively called the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch Active 4. Now, SamMobile exclusively reports that Wear OS will indeed be running the business on Samsung’s upcoming smartwatches, but it will be heavily inspired by the One UI 3 software that runs on Galaxy smartphones for more aesthetic and functional uniformity.
OPPO did something similar for its OPPO Watch that ran a forked version of Wear OS, borrowing design elements from its ColorOS skin for smartphones. Samsung has been loyal to Tizen OS for a while now, and the last Samsung smartwatch to run Google’s smartwatch operating system was the Gear Live which made its debut in 2014. Back then, Wear OS was known as Android Wear. With the Galaxy Watch 4 series, Samsung is also planning to revamp the whole UI with a focus on ‘ease of use’ and some new SmartThings features will arrive as well.
The latest leak also mentions that Samsung has three upcoming smartwatches in the pipeline with codenames Wise, Fresh, and Lucky. And at least one of them rocks a classic design with a rotating bezel, much like the Galaxy Watch 3. Another notable addition will be a communication feature that turns the smartwatch into a walkie-talkie. Apple Watch already offers a similar convenience via the Walkie-Talkie app that requires FaceTime on the paired phone to allow audio chat between two people wearing an Apple smartwatch.
As per a previous leak, the Galaxy Watch 4 will be available in 42mm and 46mm models, while the Galaxy Watch Active 4 will hit the shelves in 40mm and 44mm sizes. The upcoming smartwatches are rumored to go official at the next Unpacked event in July or August, alongside new foldable phones from Samsung. However, it appears that Samsung’s non-invasive blood glucose monitoring technology is not yet ready and won’t be making an appearance on the Galaxy Watch 4 series. Notably, Apple is also working on the aforementioned capability for its upcoming smartwatches.
What does it mean for the future of Wear OS?
With Samsung embracing Wear OS, Google’s smartwatch OS will receive a major push. Samsung will of course benefit from Google doing the heavy lifting on the software side of things, while the South Korean electronics giant can dedicate its resources to optimizing it as best as it can for its upcoming smartwatch. Samsung’s entry in the Wear OS smartwatch segment will also heat up the competition for brands like Motorola, Fossil, and Mobvoi, the three biggest names in the Wear OS domain right now. And with Google reportedly planning a Pixel Watch for a debut later this year, it appears that things are finally taking a good turn for Wear OS as a platform.
However, Pocketnow Editor-in-Chief Anton D. Nagy has some rock-solid points that raise the question – Is it too late for a Pixel Watch? Can Samsung redeem Wear OS from the chaotic development and rag-tag uptake of the platform? Only time will tell. But it remains to be seen whether Samsung can overcome hurdles such as battery longevity and a buggy software experience that has plagued Wear OS-powered smartwatches for a while now. Of course, a lot hinges on the developer community as well. Google I/O 2021 is just a day away, and it is likely that the company might reveal some major upgrades that could reinvigorate interest in its smartwatch OS and coax more OEMs to embrace it.View Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 at Amazon
View Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 at Amazon