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Too many choices, and none of them are great

Apr 25, 2018, 11:00am EDT

Back in February, Ron Amadeo wrote an excellent piece at Ars Technica that pointed out an obvious fact: Google’s Wear OS is in serious trouble. Of course, back in February, Wear OS wasn’t called Wear OS; it was called Android Wear. The renaming happened mainly because Google wanted to emphasize that watches based on the OS could work with iPhones as well as Android phones. Though, in this context, “as well” doesn’t exactly apply: Wear OS is a much better experience with Android than with iOS.

But Wear OS isn’t all that great of an experience on Android, either, which was the point of Amadeo’s piece. One of the big problems is that there’s really only one processor available for these watches: a Qualcomm chip that’s woefully out-of-date. People like to say that “specs don’t matter,” but in this case, they absolutely do. “Android smartwatches continue to be thick, slow, power-hungry devices,” Amadeo wrote. He’s right.

Google did do some good things with Android Wear 2.0 release in February 2017. It made them quasi-independent devices that could directly install apps from Google’s Play Store, which theoretically made them more viable for iPhone users. In practice, though, finding decent smartwatch apps, watchfaces, and complications requires a slog through a morass of subpar options and a slow, infuriating interface to find what you want.