Long before the prevalence of cell phones, watches were the gadget of our choice. The tiny and benevolent mechanical devices resided over our wrist, reminding us that we were almost always late for the next task. With the advent of cellphones and later, smartphones, the watch took a back seat – although never going out of fashion. Finally, the digital world embraced the idea of evolving the eternal watch into a smartwatch.
The idea was good on paper, integrating the predictive capabilities of AI into a wristwatch. The implementation, however, was terrible.
Today, smartwatches released by Fitbit, Samsung, and Apple feel like miniature, less versatile, touchscreen devices. However, that might soon change with the revamped Wear OS – Google’s proprietary operating system designed specifically for smartwatches. Google hopes that the functionalities of the new Wear OS will help make smartwatches feel more like analog wristwatches with added functionalities, rather than just another piece of gadget.
According to Dennis Troper, Google’s director of product management for Wear OS, the revamped operating system focusses on three major areas. Troper says, “Our studies show that people interact with their watches in five seconds or less on average, so it’s important to offer relevant information in a simple and actionable way.” Hence, the new Wear OS helps people connect to information with quick and glance-able interactions. A swipe-down opens up “Quick Shade” – offering toggles for different settings. The improved Quick Shade will include options such as “Find My Phone” – which will help you find your smartphone amidst a heap of mess by triggering a beep, and “Google Pay” – which will enable you to pay at stores by the press of a button on your arm rather than reaching for your smartphone.
The second focus area is the presence of more personalized notifications from Google Assistant. It can be accessed by a simple swipe-right and will display the pertinent information required to carry on day-to-day activities. Moreover, the Assistant can also be activated by voice command, recording meetings and to-do-lists. The third area of focus is the integration of Google Fit into the device. It’s been noted that smartwatch users tend to live a healthier life. By just a swipe-left, a user can now access information about current heart-rate and daily calorie burnt.
The revamped Wear OS is sure to challenge Apple’s watchOS and the Linux based Sailfish OS. Troper says, “These improvements are designed at the core to make the information easily accessible so you can have those quick interactions that you’re used to having with your watch and then get on with your life in the real world after those five seconds.”
However, before you jump on the bandwagon to purchase the next Wear OS enabled smartwatch, a wait is imminent for the next generation hardware as well. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, present in almost every smartwatch, was worn out its duration. In an event set for 10th September, 2018, Qualcomm plans to unveil its latest processor – which will offer smoother, more efficient performance. Through revamped ambient display and better GPS and heart rate sensor integration, the processor will feature improved battery life – stretching the life of smartwatches longer.
The importance of a smartwatch operating system lies in its ability to capture the essence of a watch. At the end of the day, people want to buy a watch that’s smart, not a smart device that barely passes as a watch. Google’s new Wear OS, with its sleek design and quick interactions, may pave the path for the next generation smartwatches.