Samsung and Google are joining forces to bring the best of both worlds (i.e. Tizen and Wear OS) to users of wearable devices around the world. This was, perhaps, the surprise announcement of the Google I/O 2021 keynote. Sure, rumours had swirled about it but some of us were still taken aback when it became a reality.
Unfortunately for users of Samsung’s wearables that have been powered by its Tizen platform for years, that means a move by the Korean device maker to Google’s platform, however soft-sounding the announcement from both companies may have sounded.
Going forward, Samsung’s wearables will be powered by Wear OS.
Future users of the revamped Wear OS that emerges from the coming together of Samsung and Google to make this possible can expect better battery life, an overall better system performance and a better apps ecosystem. The latter point has been something on the lips of many a Samsung Galaxy Watch user over the years as many developers have stayed put on Google’s platforms even as the hardware there has often been at odds with the software experience.
Now, Samsung gets to proceed with crafting excellent timepieces like the Galaxy Watch 3 on my wrist as I type this and on new and improved software – much better than what we experienced on the Oppo Watch, the first Wear OS smartwatch we have reviewed.
While Google has so far maintained a tight grip on the Android wearables experience, we have seen it allow some levels of customization by device makers. For instance, Oppo’s Watch has the unmistakable bells and whistles of Oppo’s custom Android overlay, ColorOS broken down for a tiny device on our wrists. The same will be the case for Samsung Galaxy smartwatches powered by Wear OS. They will still have the all-too-familiar One UI overlay.
“This isn’t just for Google and Samsung. All device makers will be able to add a customized user experience on top of the platform, and developers will be able to use the Android tools they already know and love to build for one platform and ecosystem,” Google says in a statement.
While future Samsung smartwatches (like the upcoming Galaxy Watch 4 series) and other wearables will be powered by Google’s platform, existing Samsung wearables won’t be seeing any such move. Given that we saw Samsung update its then Android Wear-powered smartwatches to Tizen six years ago when it made the switch, some of us have been kinda hoping that this would be the case this time round once the rumours started swirling that Samsung’s switch to Wear OS was inevitable.
Now that we are stuck with our Tizen duds, what happens?
Here is what Samsung is saying: “For customers who already own the Tizen OS-based Galaxy smartwatches, we are continuing to provide at least three years of software support after the product launch.” Well, enough consolation.