Enlarge / The brand new identify and brand.

Google

Google simply remembered that its smartwatch working system, Android Put on, exists. Whereas we’re not getting new hardware or software program, the OS is being rebranded to “Put on OS by Google.” There is a new identify, a brand new brand, and a brand new web site to advertise the model.

When Android Put on first launched, it was an Android-based smartwatch OS that solely labored when paired with Android telephones, so “Android Put on” made good sense. Google later added iPhone compatibility, which made the identify “Android Put on” appear a bit deceptive. It could be simple for an iPhone consumer to see the identify and assume their non-Android cellphone was not appropriate with it. “Put on OS” is far more impartial, with Google calling it “a wearables working system for everybody” in its weblog publish. The scenario is so much like Google’s different latest identify change, when it switched “Android Pay” to “Google Pay.” Android Pay labored on extra platforms than simply Android (just like the Net) so it bought a platform-generic identify.

This rebranding is unfortunately the most effective information Android Put on has gotten in about yr. Earlier than this announcement, it will have been simple to suspect that Android Put on was lifeless, because it has main issues all all through the ecosystem and hasn’t seen a lot assist from Google.

From the OS aspect of issues, main updates do not come quick sufficient. Android Put on 2.zero was launched about 13 months in the past, and we have not heard a peep a few new model. Earlier than that, we went 2.5 years between model 1.zero and a pair of.zero. Whereas the software program stagnates, the identical might be mentioned concerning the hardware—we’ve not seen a serious Put on OS hardware launch because the LG Watch Sport , which was launched 13 months in the past. Google is not serving to, both, because it has by no means produced a Google-branded smartwatch regardless of making telephones, tablets, laptops, and set-top packing containers. It is laborious accountable the hardware producers an excessive amount of, although, since Qualcomm does not appear dedicated to producing high quality smartwatch SoCs. The present Qualcomm Snapdragon Put on 2100 chip wasn’t even good at launch, and Qualcomm has let it grasp round available on the market for 2 years now. No different firm sells smartwatch SoCs to system makers.

In fact, with all of this stagnation, Android Put on hasn’t been promoting very properly. Apple, which produces yearly hardware, software program, and SoC upgrades for its Apple Watch, is of course on the high of the market. Android Put on is not even in second, although. That spot belongs to Samsung, with its Tizen-based smartwatches. Like Apple, Samsung produces its personal SoCs for its smartwatches, and that provides its gadgets a a lot quicker, extra fashionable basis than the low-effort SoC work finished by Qualcomm. Android Put on—or ought to I say “Put on OS”—is a distant third.

The one factor Put on has going for it’s Google’s recruitment of vogue manufacturers to make Android Put on watches. Customers can choose from manufacturers like Fossil, Guess, Gc, Hugo Boss, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, and others. Whereas they’re largely all the identical hardware beneath—with crippling SoC deficiencies, poor battery life, and stagnant software program—they do not less than are available quite a lot of kinds. We’ll must see if the brand new identify brings new productions at Google I/O 2018, which is only a few months away.

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