The Galaxy Watch line of wearables have been a constant presence in our best smartwatch guide, and for good reason.
The smart timepieces, most recently evidenced by the Galaxy Watch 3 I reviewed last year, are part of an elite group of wearables capable of giving the ruling Apple Watch line a run for its money when it comes to features and general quality.
The only other watches in this club come from more focussed companies, like Garmin which makes the best fitness trackers at the moment.
A key reason for this has been how well the Galaxy Watches fit into Samsung’s ecosystem. Like the Apple Watch and iPhone, if you have a Samsung phone everything about using a Galaxy Watch is easy. Pairing, get the Wearable app and you’re sorted. Want to quickly swap which device your Galaxy Buds pair to? Samsung auto switching has you covered.
This is why this week I felt shivers run up my spine when I saw a user on XDA Developers report uncovering evidence Samsung may be on the verge of taking the Galaxy Watch line in a terrible direction.
Specifically, the report suggested the firm will ditch its home-brewed Tizen OS in favour of Google’s Wear OS on the next Galaxy Watch. Some people may say, so what? That’s a good thing as it’ll grow Wear OS’ presence and give it a chance to actually take on the Apple Watch.
But for me, it’s a misguided decision, if it happens, for a couple of reasons. The first and biggest is the sorry state of Wear OS at the moment.
Read any review I’ve recently written of a product with Wear OS, like the Oppo Watch, and you’ll spot a consistent theme: Wear OS’ app offering is terrible, and it doesn’t look like Google has any intention to fix it anytime soon.
Take its music offering. Back in the day when I first started testing Wear OS devices one of the few things I loved about the service was its Play Music app, which made it quick and easy to store any music you had on your account locally without having to connect the watch to a computer.
But, with Google making the misguided decision to end Play Music, that functionality is completely gone. To make matters worse the firm hasn’t even bothered adding a YouTube Music app to Wear OS, meaning you have a choice of Spotify or Deezer and no easy means to store music locally without using a dodgy third party player and manually adding the files.
The second reason is quite how good of a job Samsung’s done with Tizen since it first loaded the OS onto a wearable many moons ago.
I wasn’t always the biggest fan of Tizen on a wearable, but the truth is, recently it has felt like the most developed smartwatch platform outside of Apple’s Watch OS. Just take a look at its track record, it already has apps for Uber, Here Maps and Samsung held the exclusive rights to offer Spotify Offline music playback before anyone else even had a reliable wearable version of it.
Which is why I can’t help but think a move to Wear OS for the next Galaxy Watch would be a mistake, at least for the moment.