My Rant About WearOS!
As a WearOS Fan!
At the beginning of the year, I decided to switch to an open ecosystem, in the past, I was fully in the Apple Ecosystem and I liked it, particularly the way everything just worked together as well as the automation provided by the Shortcuts app.
However, as a tech enthusiast, I felt very limited and out of touch with Android, so I decided to mix things up. Whilst keeping to my beloved iPad Pro, I decided to get the Pixel 6 Pro.
One of my favourite devices in the Apple Ecosystem happened to be my watch, I had the Nike edition SE as well as several previous models.
Unfortunately, as you probably have guessed, the Apple Watch SE is not compatible with Android devices, so I found myself in search of a decent WearOS (Previously Android Wear) Watch, which happened to be easier than expected as at the time I was trying out the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra, which is a very decent watch which eventually became my everyday driver.
Over the years, I’ve had many smartwatches, starting from the legendary Pebble to various other brands, so I think it’s fair to say that I know a thing or 2 about them.
I also became a fan of WearOS and have been since my very first Android Wear (Now WearOS) smartwatch, the Sony Smartwatch 3 – That’s right -Sony used to make smartwatches!
What is WearOS?
Let’s start with the elephant in the room, WearOS (previously known as Android Wear) is Google’s smartwatch operating system, a little bit like Apple’s WatchOS. WearOS is designed to run on smartwatches and other wearables but it’s important to note that it’s not the only operating system out there.
We are not alone!
If you are an Android user or even iPhone user, there are other operating systems available. One example is Samsung’s Tizen OS which is built on the Linux base framework.
Although Samsung has decided to go back to WearOS for their latest watch release, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, there still is a handful of devices that run on Tizen such as their previous Watch 3 model.
I happened to own the original Samsung Galaxy Watch a few years back, it was running on Tizen and, I thought the system was okay, I mean from what I remember, there wasn’t a great deal of watch apps to choose from, but the OS ran very well.
The watch, well that was another story, and I’m not going to get in to the countless repairs I had to send it off for – because I think that it was an issue with my particular watch and I was just very unlucky because other than that it was a great watch.
You may be surprised that there still are loads of other operating systems out there, however WearOS seems to be the main one for Androids.
Is WearOS any good?
That’s a very good question! What you have to remember is that unlike Apple’s WatchOS which is exclusively built for Apple Watches, WearOS is built to work on several different devices such as the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra I’m currently daily driving.
Having said that because of the fact that WearOS is built for several devices it does mean that your experience may vary from watch to watch. I think it’s very important to understand that because people seem to like to putting things in one bag when they had a bad experience.
It’s the same with iPhone users who tried either an old or a poor Android phone, they just put all Androids into one bag. I think it’s easy for me to say that we’ve all been there, I certainly have!
In order for you to get a better understanding of my final answer, I wanted to start by discussing my experience with the platform, this is where my rant begins.
This is where my rant about the operating system starts. unfortunately, it seems that the current market share just isn’t big enough for WearOS to be considered a big player, especially compared to the Apple Watch. This does mean that a lot of app developers will not even consider WearOS as a real option.
I think that Samsung has a lot to say about this since they’ve been using Tizen OS for so long! But now with the Watch 4, they decided to use WearOS and if we combine that with the upcoming Pixel Watch, surely that’s enough to make developers want to develop more apps? If you are an app developer, can you provide more insight on this in the comments?
On the other hand, the reason that it’s good for Samsung to have switched to WearOS is because in Q1 of 2022, they shipped a great deal more phones compared to Samsung, according to IDC. You can check out the statistics here.
As a WearOS user, I think that app support on WearOS is poor and some very basic apps are sadly missing such as decent calendar apps.
One of the apps that to see is TickTick. I recently really got into using TickTick as my go to app but, sadly there is no app support for WearOS but there is for the Apple Watch.
I find that ideas come to mind during the most unexpected of times, whether it’s things you need to do or just an idea, I want to be able to save that idea in my ToDo list even when I don’t have my phone on me.
The only mainstream To Do lists app that I was able to find was ToDoist and Any.do. Whilst both apps are very good, I didn’t really get into them as much as I did with TickTick, whom I have approached for comment.
The other thing I find frustrating is the lack of an app that can control my smart devices, the only app that I was able to find was Samsung’s Smart Things which isn’t ideal for my ecosystem.
Now I am fully aware that you can use the Google Assistant to control your devices, but I would much prefer to have a visual app that will allow me to turn my lights off if I forgot to turn them off myself.
One of the top benefits of WearOS is the fact that you have access to Google Assistant. This gives the watch a whole new level of possibilities such as asking what time your local shop is open till.
Whilst this feature sounds good, inn reality, it needs a lot of improvement being made. Now, I’m not sure whether the issues I am about to mention are specific to my watch or model but I will still mention them.
One of the main issues I noticed is the constant “Sorry, there was a problem” error message when the assistant replies. It mostly happens when I ask slightly more advanced questions such as “Show me cycling directions to my local ASDA store, the assistant will respond by giving my the name of the fastest road but that is it.
As someone who uses the Google ecosystem, naturally I have created smart home routines which combine several tasks into one command. For example, I can say “Hey Google, Goodnight” and it will turn all the lights in my room off as well as my TV, it will also set my phone to silent mode and set an alarm.
However, when I try to get Google Assistant to follow the routine using my watch, it will return an error saying “Routines aren’t currently supported on this device” which is a real shame.
Staying on with the Google Assistant, I wanted to also mention that my watch does not respond to the “Ok Google” or “Hey Google” commands even with the setting enabled. This issue may just be related to my watch, but after doing a quick Google Search, I found that others are experiencing the exact same issue.
Are there any advantages to WearOS?
Yes! Even with everything discussed above, I still think that WearOS has advantages! One of these advantages being the fact that you have access to Google Assistant, it may not be perfect, but at least it’s there.
One of the main things I like about WearOS it the availability of different watch faces, the choice is endless and unlike on the Apple Watch, if you don’t like the selection included with your watch, you can just search the App Store and download more. The watch faces tend to look more realistic too, this is an area where I think the Apple Watch fails as the watch faces are all modern looking with no real option for a classical watch face.
I also like the fact that if I swipe right on the Home Screen, it will take me to the At Glance page which gives me access to the Google Assistant as well as some suggested commands and a inspirational quote at the bottom.
So is WearOS any good?
Overall, I think that WearOS is a good and solid choice for smartphone operating systems. Over the past couple of years big brands such as Samsung have concentrated on perfecting their own system which meant that only a small amount of manufacturers were using WearOS.
I strongly believe that this is why Google haven’t been spending much time on perfecting the system and why app availability is so low compared to the Apple Watch.
At the same time, I have huge hopes that the upcoming release of the Pixel Watch together with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 will motivate developers to create for the platform. I also hope that the issues I am currently facing with this release of WearOS are fixed or improved.
To conclude this article I wanted to ask you what you thoughts are on WearOS, are the any apps that you reccomend?