Google has officially announced just this week that its operating system for wearable devices, Android Wear, will now henceforth be called Wear OS. Many will no doubt notice that the name change involves basically just the removal of the word Android. The tech giant has made it clear that this move is by design, which will be explained shortly.
As pointed out by Dennis Trope, the director of product management of Wear OS at Google, it turns out that a third of new owners of wearable devices running on Android Wear are also existing users of Apple’s iPhone devices. So instead of having those smartwatch users feel like they are being tied to the Android label just because they are using an Android Wear wearable device, Google is essentially shifting to the rebranded name of Wear OS in order to be more inclusive -- in other words, Wear OS is for everybody, regardless of whether they are using Android or iOS handsets.
It is interesting to note that Google is announcing this bit of news more than a month ahead of its upcoming I/O developer conference (which is scheduled to happen in May of this year). The tech giant routinely makes its big software related announcements during its annual conference, but the company may have felt it was necessary to breaks the news as early as now.
Inevitably, many will be wondering if rebranding Android Wear is the right move for Google’s operating system for wearable devices. There is no denying that the worldwide market for wearables is growing. Of course, the Apple Watch deserves a lot of credit for helping people become more aware of smartwatches. Nearly a couple of weeks ago, it was reported that Apple’s smartwatch has now become the global leader in terms of wearables revenues, beating long time wearables king Fitbit (which recently unveiled the new Versa smartwatch), and Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi to the number one spot.
Can Android Wear, or more accurately, Wear OS, compete? The answer appears to be yes, at least for now. According to the Fossil Group, which manufactured several Android Wear powered smartwatch devices in 2017, it almost increased its wearables division by almost two fold to over $300 million last year, including a fifth of smartwatch sales during the final three months of 2017, as revealed by Greg McKelvey, the chief strategy and digital officer of the company.
But the road ahead will be tricky -- lest we forget, Apple has been pushing the limits of what a smartwatch can do lately, especially with the release of the Apple Watch Series 3, which comes with LTE connectivity. Samsung’s Gear S3 is also offering cellular capabilities, powered by the Tizen operating system. Needless to say, Wear OS definitely has its work cut out for it.
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