With a long-standing history of working together on the mobile side, it’s always been a bit of a surprise that Samsung hasn’t had much patience for Google’s wearables play. The hardware giant had flirted with Android Wear in the past, but for the last several years, it’s been invested in building out its own version of open-source operating system, Tizen.
Today, both companies announced a partnership featuring a “unified platform” between the two some-time competitors. The goal of the deal is to essentially create a way for devs to build apps for both Wear OS and Tizen at once. The deal makes sense from that perspective. Third-party apps have been something of a sticking point for both companies.
Even more to the point, it’s an opportunity for two smaller players in the space to join forces and take on Apple, which has been utterly dominant in the smartwatch category, more or less since the first Apple Watch arrived.
Wear OS has already gone through a number of cycles, including a big rebrand from Android OS a while back, but nothing has really stuck over the years, leaving the wearable operating as something of an also-ran. For now, at least, this is far from a full-throated embrace of Wear OS on Samsung’s part and appears to be something more akin to an "the enemy of my enemy" situation. Along with developing a unified API, the companies are joining forces to pluck the best from each operating system, including longer battery life -- perhaps the largest hurdle facing smartwatches at the moment.
"We know that health and wellness are at the forefront of consumers’ minds, and we’re excited to continue building the industry-leading health experience on our new unified platform with Google," Samsung said in a blog post. "As our consumers turn to wearable technology to monitor their wellbeing, we’re meeting these needs head on. By creating world-class health technology, we hope to elevate how users approach to their wellbeing, and enable them to make positive changes in their everyday lives."
Samsung added that the next version of the Galaxy Watch will be the first to leverage this partnership, but offered little additional information on the hardware front. I’d anticipate big news on the Wear OS front in the next year. If nothing else, the company’s partnership with Google is a sign that it’s ready to go for broke with the platform.