Wear OS 3 is expected to start rolling out to eligible devices in “mid to second half of 2022”, and while we anxiously await for smartwatches to receive the update, we have new information about the latest watches supporting dedicated Companion applications. Future smartwatches could support branded companion apps, enabling new customization features, functionality, and more.
According to Google, Wear OS 3 smartwatches aren’t compatible with the original Wear OS application. It’s unclear why the new operating system isn’t supported, and we have no information on whether they’ll work in the future. We don’t think smartwatches will be supported any time soon, as most manufacturers have already created their own version of the companion app, and other OEMs are currently working on one, including Google itself (via 9to5Google).
Fossil is the latest company to develop such an application, and it says that the app will “support our WearOS watches getting the WearOS 3 update later this year.” The company is also said to be working closely with Google to collaborate and deliver the “best possible user experience.”
“Part of the flow, features, function, and more in the new app are a bit influenced by meeting requirements for our whole portfolio of connected watches. As part of this, we’re working closely with Google designers to collectively deliver the best possible user experience for all users.”
A lot of users are currently complaining about the lack of features, and removed functionality, and Fossil is having a tough time convincing users. The new version 5.0 companion app was released alongside the Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid last month, and the new users seemingly dislike the new design and layout.
Will a dedicated Companion help Wear OS?
The standard Wear OS app was great to teach new users how the watch worked, and it was also excellent for changing a few settings and watch faces, but it wasn’t used often, and that made it an unnecessary app. Samsung, Mobvoi, and a few other companies have already created their Companion applications, and they appear to work great. They let users change every aspect of their smartwatches, including watch faces, settings, and other functions that would not otherwise be available in the traditional WearOS application by Google.
The fact that even Google is reportedly working on a separate app to work alongside its upcoming Google Pixel Watch says a lot, and it will likely become the new norm, moving forward. It’s unclear what other features these companion apps might offer, but it’s clear that it’ll help tone down and improve the user experience in the long term. Companies will be able to brand these as services, offering unique watch faces, features, health measurement tools, and more, and there’s also a potential for a subscription service – letting users access more data.
While many might dislike the thought of these, I think it’s a good thing, and it lets companies take more control over their own devices. The experience could be tailored better; we’ve seen that this works surprisingly well with Samsung smartwatches. If Samsung’s success is any indication, we’re hopeful that Fossil, and many other companies are taking notes, and coming up with similar strategies.
Using a single companion app could also reduce the clutter of Android applications that users sometimes need to use to get the most out of their devices. For instance, some users may use the health measurement tools and integrations in the companion app, but others may choose to use a third-party service. Having the option to do both is excellent, and we hope to see it in the future.
There are only a handful of Wear OS 3-supported smartwatches on the market today. The list includes the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, the recently announced Montblanc Summit 3, and a few other devices from Mobvoi.