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Android Wear Needs More Than a New Name To Fight Apple Watch (cnet.com) 90

Less than two months before Google I/O, Google has rebranded its Android Wear watch platform to "Wear OS." The recent name change is part of a move to have its watches stand apart from Android, but it could also indicate that Google's smartwatch strategy is about to shift. Google may release a completely new Wear OS focused on the Google Assistant or a Google-branded smartwatch. Scott Stein writes via CNET that Android Wear needs more than a new name to fight the Apple Watch: The Apple Watch took over the top spot in global wearable sales recently, according to IDC, despite the fact that it's only compatible with iPhones. Fitbit just announced the Versa, a promising casual smartwatch that will interface with any iPhone or Android and starts at just $200. The wearable market is growing. But where is Google in that picture? The Fossil Group, maker of many of the Android Wear watch products last year, reported some promising numbers: "In 2017, Fossil Group nearly doubled its wearables business to more than $300 million, including 20 percent of watch sales in Q4," said Greg McKelvey, Fossil's chief strategy and digital officer, as part of Google's Wear OS announcement. So it sounds like Android Wear -- sorry, Wear OS -- is still in the game. But the problem, for me, is that I've never found Android Wear watches to be particularly great. Google relaunched Android Wear over a year ago with new software and added fitness smarts, plus standalone phone functions. But Apple's watch strategy has advanced faster, with better hardware. The Apple Watch S3 can be a phone, now. So can Samsung's Gear S3, which runs on Tizen. Google, meanwhile, stopped adding cellular functions to watches after the lackluster LG Watch Sport last year.
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Android Wear Needs More Than a New Name To Fight Apple Watch

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  • Nobody cares. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Thursday March 15, 2018 @08:15PM (#56267101) Journal

    Smart Watches have flopped. I bought a Pebble, but am back to a $30 Casio. Most people wear no watch at all, and have no intent to do so.

    • Ding ding ding!

      Stop trying to make smart watches happen. They're not going to happen.

      • I'm more interested in the health monitoring aspects of smart watches than anything else. The screen is too small to be useful for anything else than monitoring and displaying the time and date anyway.

        And what I really want is a health watch that DOES NOT NEED a freakin' smartphone.

        • Why the hell do people need to monitor themselves all... the.. time. One piece of advice from weight loss lifestyle changes is not to weigh yourself every day. It's not like these sensors are accurate enough to replace a valid medical monitor. It can be too much.
        • I'd be interested if I could link the watch directly to my computer via cable or local network. I don't need to "care and share" personal health data with the clown ... I mean cloud ... thank you very much.

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        They generally fail at being a watch. Either the battery life is abysmal compared to regular watches where batteries last for years, or you have to push buttons to get them to operate.

        That said, what does make sense are the fitness trackers with heart rate monitors, step counters and sleep monitoring. As long as they also have a decent battery life. The Apple watches fail completely on that account, and can't even track a full day.

        • by Trogre ( 513942 )

          I think I'll stick with my Gear, thanks.

          Four day battery life, seamless phone integration with better speaker/mic than actual phone, and it's Tizen so I can write my own damn apps for it.

          Not waterproof enough for swimming, but I can live with that.

        • They generally fail at being a watch.

          That's like saying your laptop fails at being a calculator. It uses way more energy, it's 100x bigger, it doesn't fit in your pocket, and doesn't have a dedicated keypad. Smartwatches are watches only in how they are generally shaped and worn on the body. In all other respects they are mobile devices, like your phone or a tablet. They are marketed as "watches" because that's a familiar concept to people but functionally they are not similar.

          • They generally fail at being a watch.

            That's like saying your laptop fails at being a calculator. It uses way more energy, it's 100x bigger, it doesn't fit in your pocket, and doesn't have a dedicated keypad. Smartwatches are watches only in how they are generally shaped and worn on the body. In all other respects they are mobile devices, like your phone or a tablet. They are marketed as "watches" because that's a familiar concept to people but functionally they are not similar.

            Except having a clock on your wrist has proven to be very useful for over a hundred years, so there's a reason that people would prioritize that function. Knowing when your neighbor's cousin liked your Instagram post... well, I think most of us don't recognize the same utility.

            • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

              But that's the point. I don't care about my neighbor's cousin liking my Instagram post.

              {{ding}}

              *Flicks wrist*

              Nope.

              Sure beats digging out my phone just to find the same useless information.

          • My laptop is good at being a calculator. It's a two-keystroke combination to bring up something where I can type quick calculations, it has better editing facilities than any stand-alone calculator I've used, and I can copy a simple calculation and stick it into a proper programming language for really complicated things. Most importantly, I'm already using my laptop 99% of the time that I want a calculator, so there's less overhead from using my laptop as one than there is of switching to a separate phys

          • by arth1 ( 260657 )

            That's like saying your laptop fails at being a calculator. It uses way more energy, it's 100x bigger, it doesn't fit in your pocket, and doesn't have a dedicated keypad.

            It isn't marketed as a calculator.
            (But who needs a calculator? I carry a small slide rule. It works in rain or -40 temperatures, doubles as a ruler, doesn't make a bulge in my jacket pocket, and never runs out of batteries.)

            Smart watches are marketed as a type of wrist watches, but being a wrist watch is a task they don't do well at all.
            Wrist watches replaced pocket watches due to the convenience. You no longer needed to free a hand to take out the watch to check the time. You could just glance at your

            • Smart watches are marketed as a type of wrist watches, but being a wrist watch is a task they don't do well at all.

              Are you confused? Are you under the impression they are basically just a watch? I doubt it. I'm not. I guess we are smarter than everyone else though?

              I really don't think anyone purchases say an Apple watch with the expectation that it's mainly just a timepiece. If you go to the Apple page, the first image shows an incoming call on the watch. It goes on to show it being used as a fitness tracker and displaying incoming text messages.

              • by arth1 ( 260657 )

                Are you confused? Are you under the impression they are basically just a watch?

                I think you are the confused one. No one is saying it's just a watch, but if it is a watch, it better bloody work well as a watch too.
                And that's where it fails, big time, mainly due to the high power requirements. As it is, it's a wrist device and has no business calling itself a smart "watch".

                • but if it is a watch

                  It's not. Well, it's a watch insomuch as your phone is a watch and tablet is a watch. It's a mobile device similar to your phone, in the form factor and ergo of a watch. Set your expectations accordingly before you buy.

      • by Xenx ( 2211586 )
        They've already happened. Trying to say they're not going to happen is just idiocy or lunacy. The problem comes from businesses always thinking about growing a market. The market for smart watches exists, it's just not for everybody. It's not even necessarily for most people. Also, similar to tablets, smart watches aren't as needed due to having smartphones around. They're also not as likely to drive as frequent of repeat sales. People don't care as much about having the absolutely newest tablet or smart wa
    • I respect just a normal analog watch. It's simple, it does the job, and you only need to change the battery once every few years.
      • I respect just a normal analog watch. It's simple, it does the job, and you only need to change the battery once every few years.

        If all you want / need to do is tell time, then you are surely right, a smart watch isn't for you.

        • That's not all I want, but I use my phone for the other things. The only question here is if I need *everything* on my wrist instead of pulling out my phone and the answer is no. Not for the price and hassle.
    • I love my Pebble! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by h4ck7h3p14n37 ( 926070 ) on Thursday March 15, 2018 @08:55PM (#56267253) Homepage

      Why would you go back to a Casio after having used a Pebble? I backed the Time Steel and it's my favorite watch by far.

      I love the ability to change watch faces, the always on e-paper display and the 5+ day battery life. If I get a text, a Hipchat message or an email, I can just look down at my wrist instead of fishing my phone out of my pocket and then keying in the passphrase. It sounds simple, but is extremely convenient. I can reply by talking into the watch or selecting a canned message. I also run Music Boss so I get album art on my wrist for whatever I'm listening to on Spotify and can change tracks and adjust volume with the watch.

      Now that Fitbit's destroyed Pebble I'm kind of stuck. I won't buy an Android watch because the battery life is unacceptable. I can't buy an iWatch because they only work with iPhones. I won't buy a Fitbit because I want a smartwatch and not a fitness tracker. I really liked that Sony watch with the e-paper wristband, but it's only sold in Japan. The Pebble Time Steel met my needs perfectly and there's nothing else on the market like it.

      • If I get a text, a Hipchat message or an email, I can just look down at my wrist instead of fishing my phone out of my pocket and then keying in the passphrase. It sounds simple, but is extremely convenient. I can reply by talking into the watch or selecting a canned message.

        This is in large part why I like my Apple Watch. Plus NFC payments are extremely convenient with the device. And I like having an alarm clock and calendar on my wrist... something I learned back when I had a Garmin Vivosmart.

        It did cost significantly more than a fitness tracker... but my experience with the Garmin devices, plus my wife’s Fitbit track record, is that you’re lucky if those make it a year before various problems crop up. My Watch is at 19 months and still works great. If it makes i

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The Garmin Vivoactive or Fenix watches meet your criteria, then. I was a huge Pebble enthusiast for all the reasons you stated, then when Pebble was murdered, I went with Garmin and am very happy with it.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I've seen a few that are just normal analogue/digital watches but also have a Bluetooth low-energy connection and a tiny LCD for displaying notifications. They vibrate as well.

        Separate batteries for the watch and Bluetooth parts mean that the watch runs for years even if you forget to charge the Bluetooth part. Can't remember what the Bluetooth battery life was like. I think it was a Casio... Actually I think it was a Casio women's watch, but presumably they do men's as well.

    • Smart Watches have flopped. I bought a Pebble, but am back to a $30 Casio. Most people wear no watch at all, and have no intent to do so.

      And yet Apple is selling somewhere north of 15 million a year at $300 a pop or more. Not the next big thing but $4.5 Billion is not pocket change either.

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      "Flopped?" They'd have to first be a success in order to flop. They're a solution looking for a problem.

      Time? Timex, FTW!
    • Re:Nobody cares. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by clay_buster ( 521703 ) on Thursday March 15, 2018 @11:40PM (#56267735) Homepage
      Apple sold 18 million watches in 2017. There are a lot of companies that would like that type of "flop".

      I stopped wearing a watch until I got my Series 2. It is a great fitness monitor, texting device and remote volume control for my music. Custom watch faces are fun though rarely changed. I like the map navigation app when I remember to use it while walking to a new place.
      • ... I like the map navigation app when I remember to use it while walking to a new place.

        I love it for driving; haptic feedback for turns. Rarely need spoken directions or glancing at the map. Great for those spaced out days on the commute home, when I may miss my exit.

        Not that it's the only thing I like about my watch.

    • I backed the last Pebble also, and I could see if that was your last experience why youâ(TM)d have that impression.

      But the Apple Watch is simply a million times better than the Pebble, and Iâ(TM)m just talking about my series 0 with the latest OS updates. The new watches are even better. There is a real app story going on there too, itâ(TM)s taken off more slowly than phone apps did, but fir those willing to look at what was, and think about what will be you can see it coming as sure as the

    • with a first-generation Sony smartwatch: https://www.theverge.com/2012/... [theverge.com]
      and then a Basis tracker: http://www.bestfitnesstrackerr... [bestfitnes...eviews.com]
      and then a Pebble: https://www.pebble.com/ [pebble.com]
      and then a Moto 360: https://www.motorola.com.au/pr... [motorola.com.au]

      My inner gadget freak kept wanting to be wowed, but I kept not being wowed, so I kept trying other models. By the time friends started to get Apple watches, I had already transitioned to wearing traditional analog mechanical watches instead. I played with their Apple watches a bit,

      • I had already transitioned to wearing traditional analog mechanical watches instead.

        Some of us never transitioned out of them, you retro-hipster you.

      • For many, the smartphone was the replacement for a watch. Trying to duplicate the smartphone in the watch form factor is a backwards step.

        The smart watch is a placeholder for contact lens heads up display. Google glass moved in the right direction in this respect but that was effectively a failure despite initial interest.

        Once processor and power problems are solved, the contact lens will be the way forward but progress has to be made on less esoteric technology in the interim and the smart watch is a

    • Exactly what I was thinking as I read the article. "Apple is winning!" Me: ".... at almost no one?" Sad how we used to think something like this would be so amazing and like some crazy James Bond gadget - but of course it's not a very usable substitute for a good phone.
    • It's true. Apple's Watch has flopped so hard it outsold the entire Swiss Watch industry last year.

      Or has the Swiss Watch industry flopped, too?

      Stop comparing smartwatch sales to things like laptop or phone sales. They're different classes of device, and have different metrics of success. As of right now, the Apple Watch is an uncontested success. It's making money, and sales are up. Who knows how long it'll be a success, but for right now, there's no reasonable way to say that they've flopped.

  • by Shados ( 741919 ) on Thursday March 15, 2018 @08:33PM (#56267181)

    Usually Google suffer from poor marketing, and this is part of the issue here. Android Wear, however, is a major part -technical- issues.

    I got 2 android wear watches so far. The first was the LG one from launch. It was slow as hell and very buggy at the beginning.

    I eventually got a Moto 360 second gen. It was better, but also buggy. Connectivity issues, weird glitches, random battery drains. The stupid flat tire meant none of the watch faces looked good, too.

    It got worse though: when they updated to Android Wear 2, a lot of options changed or were hard to find. Worse, now when I get a new phone, because of the requirement to reset the watch to pair, it becomes semi-incompatible with the current version of the phone software. That makes pairing incredibly difficult. If you try enough times it eventually works. Or you can just download an APK of an old version on a sketchy website and have it work for sure (wtf?)

    If they could just get the software to work reliably and consistently, they'd have a chance.

  • better watch design, better User interface, better nfc, better network

    Button do something

    crown do something

  • Putting a full computer in a phone actually resulted in a more useful device, enough to dismiss the dismal battery life. The real problem here is that putting a computer in a watch doesn't actually increase the utility of the watch but still results in dismal battery life. Fixing either problem will vastly increase people's interest in these computer watches.

    • Putting a full computer in a phone actually resulted in a more useful device

      It also resulted in lesser voice quality and ergonomics, and more connection problems. But people were somehow able to get past the fact that their smartPHONEs were more than phones and the functional benefit outweighed the suboptimal phone experience.

      SmartWATCHes aren't watches. They are mobile devices that are nearly as functional as your phone, and surprise, they have battery lives similar to other mobile devices because magic isn't real. They are worn like watches, but functionally they aren't anything

      • They show the current time when you look at them. Sounds a lot like a watch to me.

        The utility is there, it's just not there for everyone yet, which is what we were saying about smart phones 14 years ago while clutching our Palm Treos and Windows Mobiles close. Anyone grumbling about a lack of utility in a smart watch either wouldn't wear a watch regardless, or just never came across one that actually had features they found useful. If I *am* going to wear a watch, it's going to be one that does more than gi

        • They show the current time when you look at them. Sounds a lot like a watch to me.

          Do does my phone. So does my desktop computer for that matter. So does my microwave.

      • by jcr ( 53032 )

        It also resulted in lesser voice quality

        What's your next guess?

        -jcr

  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Thursday March 15, 2018 @09:31PM (#56267361)
    It tells the time and date. I can "charge" it by turning a little knob on the stem.
  • I have a 2FA app on my watch so I never have to find my 2FA device, ever.

    • I have a 2FA app on my watch so I never have to find my 2FA device, ever.

      I want this! What do you have, how does it work, is it fido compatible?

  • It needs Apple numbers of hordes wanting to buy what is currently, mostly a useless gadget, considering the percentage of time you wear it vs its uses. The average human being still doesn't need what a smartwatch is right now, at their current price, with their current limitations and commitments. The only disadvantage Android has vs whatever Apple has, is that Apple buyers are simply more open to spending money on something without added value, because it goes well with their life choices.

  • "Smart" watches are still gimmicks and not practical devices. They run out of charge after a few days of normal use, most don't have always-on displays, they suck in direct sunlight, they're expensive, they're tied to proprietary phone operating systems or appstore platforms, they're fiddly to use, they have very little utility that justifies them in their own right, and they'll be bitrotten and useless in a few years.

    Address some or all of these issues and they'll be better devices for it. Or rebrand the

  • Google had a much better idea with Google Glass than anyone has with these wrist-wearables. Wrist computers are never going to be more than a small niche. They're just not a very good idea.

    Just keep trying to get the on-your-face stuff smaller and cheaper. That's what's going to be big, as soon as someone does it "right" (whatever that's discovered to be).

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