Enlarge / The Samsung Gear S3.

At this time, Google’s Android-based smartwatch platform—Put on OS—looks as if a lifeless finish. It is at the moment third within the smartwatch market, after the Apple Watch and Samsung’s Tizen-based “Gear S” watches. On the software program facet of issues, Google hasn’t been iterating on Put on OS shortly sufficient. The final main replace—Put on 2.zero—was roughly 18 months in the past, and Google I/O 2018 got here and went with out a peep a few new replace. On the hardware facet of issues, Put on OS hardware is terrible. The market’s greatest SoC vendor, Qualcomm, has proven it is not actually within the smartwatch market and solely affords a gradual, sizzling, outdated smartwatch SoC based mostly on manufacturing know-how from 2013.

Put on OS may quickly have a saviour although, a minimum of in relation to hardware. Weak smartphone leaker Evan Blass claims Samsung workers are sporting Samsung smartwatches working “not Tizen, however Put on OS.” Samsung could be coming to save lots of Put on OS.

Samsung’s superior hardware

Qualcomm is not investing in good watches, and with a close to monopoly on the SoC market, anybody beholden to Qualcomm’s lineup shouldn’t be going to have the ability to produce a aggressive smartwatch. Many of the regular Android OEMs are aligned with Android Put on, however with no new smartwatch chips, all of them principally stopped making new smartwatches. It simply so occurs that the 2 smartwatch market leaders, Apple and Samsung, aren’t beholden to Qualcomm—they’ve their very own chip-design services, and so they commonly replace their smartwatches with new SoCs utilizing state-of-the-art manufacturing applied sciences.

Samsung and Apple hardware is gentle years forward of what any Put on OS companion can produce. Qualcomm’s finest smartwatch chip is the Snapdragon Put on 2100, which makes use of an historical 28nm manufacturing course of that was final utilized in a high-end smartphone in 2013. The state-of-the-art in the present day for shopper merchandise is a 10nm course of, which you may get in a Qualcomm good telephone SoC, however not in a sensible watch.

In the meantime, Samsung is definitely investing in an excellent smartwatch SoC and simply blows away Qualcomm’s providing. The Samsung Gear S3—which is due for an improve—has an Exynos 7270 constructed on a 14nm manufacturing course of.

A smaller manufacturing course of means smaller transistors, permitting you to construct a chip that’s tinier, makes use of much less energy, and produces much less warmth, all of that are important elements of an excellent smartwatch. Anybody who’s in contrast a Gear S3 to a Put on OS machine will let you know the Gear S3 is quicker and lasts for much longer on a cost. A few of that may be attributed to variations in Put on OS and Tizen, however the Samsung-powered hardware has a large benefit over something with a Qualcomm chip. With its superior Exynos SoC line, if Samsung made a Put on OS watch, it will immediately develop into the perfect Put on OS machine in the marketplace.

Possibly Tizen isn’t adequate

Enlarge / Samsung: good at hardware, not so good at software program.

Why precisely would Samsung need to make a Put on OS machine when Tizen is already quantity 2 out there? Effectively, Tizen could also be quantity 2, nevertheless it’s a distant quantity 2. This time final 12 months, the Apple Watch had 57 p.c of the market, in keeping with Technique Analytics, whereas Tizen and Android Put on (now Put on OS) had been combating for second with 19 and 18 p.c, respectively.

Possibly Samsung feels that second place is not adequate. The corporate is accustomed to beating Apple’s market share within the smartphone race, which it was in a position to do after teaming up with Google and releasing Android telephones. Possibly Samsung thinks Tizen has reached its ceiling, and it might higher compete with the Apple Watch if it repeats the Android-based technique that labored so effectively within the smartphone market. Samsung and Google group up, once more, to tackle Apple. A transfer like this could work from Google’s perspective, too. Put on OS wants higher hardware, and Google has been prepared to make concessions to make Samsung blissful previously.

Tizen is open supply, however like Google’s relationship to Android, Samsung is the first developer behind Tizen and more-or-less controls its future. Tizen would not actually exist as a viable smartphone platform, however Samsung has experimented with the concept in low-end telephones. Tizen primarily exists on watches, fridges, TVs, automobile infotainment programs, and different electronics, practically all of that are made by Samsung.

With just one producer behind the OS, restricted kind components (principally watches and janky good house merchandise), and restricted market share, app builders haven’t been eager on growing for Tizen. The Gear S app ecosystem is terrible and falls far behind what you may get on Put on OS. No different firm is ready to single-handedly construct an app and machine ecosystem the way in which Apple can. Put on OS, alternatively, does an excellent job of glomming onto the Android app ecosystem. You utilize the identical SDK and instruments as common Android, one thing most app builders—even Samsung’s—will discover extra acquainted than the HTML-based Tizen apps.

A rebirth of Android Put on?


We have now not too long ago heard some rumblings that (Android) Put on OS is coming again to life. Google not too long ago modified the title from Android Put on to Put on OS and shipped a brand new developer preview with just a few minor change and Google Assistant integration. There are rumors that Google will, for the primary time, launch a Google-branded smartwatch.

When the Android Put on title change was first unveiled, it made little sense. Google was taking a failing platform and simply giving it a brand new emblem and title, which did not appear prone to make a distinction out there. With a Google-branded watch (and pulling in Samsung), one might think about how the title change might be a part of a serious reboot of Google’s watch OS.

Whereas new hardware could be an enormous boon for the platform, what we might really want to listen to about from Google is a top-to-bottom rethink of how Put on OS works. We nonetheless have not heard a peep about that but.


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