The conflict over your wrist just got far more intriguing.
The deal might be a rather modest sum in comparison with the countless Google spent on Nest, but it could be equally as significant. For starters, Fossil is one of the only firms constantly turning out fresh pair OS watches that folks actually want to purchase. But if this deal doesn’t result in a Pixel watch or Google-branded hardware in any way, for the first time Google is going to have wearable hardware group beneath its roof to help drive prospective design, navigation, and UI decisions.
And most of all, it implies that Google is committed to developing Wear OS into over a one-size-fits-all platform that won’t adapt to the hardware around it. And it can indicate the first authentic Apple Watch competition is finally on the horizon.
When Android Wear launched in March 2014, there was no Apple Watch. The Galaxy Gear and Samsung’s Tizen OS was in its infancy, and the Pebble platform was little more than a glorified pager. Android Wear was was the very first wrist-sized OS that tried to strike a balance between mechanical timepieces and data-delivering smartwatches.
android wear iphone gears3Andrew Hayward/IDG
Google hasnt done much to set Wear OS apart from its rivals.
What created the first couple of Android Wear watches (specifically the Moto 360 along with the Huawei Watch) so promising was their tight relationship with Android Wear. From the classic faces into the single-button navigation, the first Android Wear watches were natural extensions of their smartphone counterparts, and they reflected a stark difference from the dull, uninspired designs from Samsung and LG. They looked great, they worked well, and they exceeded our expectations.
After Apple Watch was unveiled some six months later, it only solidified Google’s eyesight. Where Apple’s timepiece was a part of tech that happened to tell the Android Wear watches were more conventional in both look and functionality, with a focus on dials and glances instead of innovative performance. It’s why Fossil’s smartwatches are able to thrive while the models made by smartphone OEMs havent: Android Wear/Wear OS watches appeal to people who want a brighter watch, not always a smartwatch. Google could have bought any smartwatch group, but the chose Fossil for a very simple reason: Google doesn’t need to fulfill Wear OS with apps and features nobody uses. It needs Wear OS to be as simple and interaction-less as possible.
One size suits you
You’ve probably seen one of Fossil’s Wear OS watches in the wild before realizing it. For starters, they seem like conservative wristwatches from a space, but what’s more is they follow the design language of those brands they’re symbolizing: Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Armani, Diesel, and also needless to say, Fossil itself. Some are hybrids with mechanical arms and tiny screens, others are full smartwatches with always-on displays and unlimited customization.
What they all have in common, however, is that the smarts are for the most part focused around the important feature of any opinion: the face. Many Fossil watches eschew common features such as heart-rate detectors and NFC chips in favor of layouts which are both comfortable and fashionable. While lots of use OS watches which try to cram as many sensors as possible into larger and bigger frames, Fossil is much less interested in do-it-all devices than it’s in researching the easier watch aspects of the smartwatch. And Google could use that strategy to tighten and concentrate Wear OS from the key areas that matter: health, fitness, and, most of all, timekeeping. Instead, it is recognizing that smartwatches do not need to be a sprint to the top of the attributes pile. There are plenty of people who are considering smartwatches for simple functionality and smart integration rather than a heap of attributes, and that is where Fossil can help. Google has indicated that it’s more interested in developing Wear OS to operate better with its partner brands than creating it’s own hardware, and a move away from the notion of a”one-size-fits-all watch.” The Fossil partnership solidifies that line of thinking and provides Wear OS a potential and future it has not had in years.
With Fossil for a guide, the next phase of Wear OS should be about taps and programs, and more about creating a simpler software experience that needs less interaction. As it stands, Android Wear and Wear OS has ever been an interface in search of the ideal hardware. The hope is that Google may provide a totally realized platform that can scale on demand and does not try to become anything greater than it must be: a wearable people really want to wear.