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Android Headliner: Smartwatch Manufacturers Like LG and Samsung Should Stick Behind Android Wear

April 17, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

Last year, when Google introduced Android Wear devices like the G Watch, the Gear Live and the Moto 360 there was quite a bit of skepticism. With good reason, too as the platform was new, unproven and to be honest it didn’t seem to have much going for it. A few software updates later, and Android Wear has gotten better in a number of areas, there’s a wealth of great watch faces users can download and customize their watches with and more quality apps hit the Play Store each week. Even with a growing platform though, it appears that not all of Google’s friends want to stick with Android Wear, with word that more than just one partner of Google’s is looking into alternatives. This doesn’t seem like a smart idea to me, after all the world could do without one more smartwatch platform.

During Mobile World Congress this year, LG showed off the Watch Urbane and boy, what a watch it is. If you thought the G Watch R was too sporty, too rugged, then the Watch Urbane is for you; it’s good-looking and classy. However, they also announced the Watch Urbane LTE, a device running a version of LG’s WebOS platform. Having taken a look at the Watch Urbane LTE, it does seem like LG have some good software ideas for their own watch, but it’s not Android Wear, and that’s a problem. That’s a problem because, for the first time in a long time every Android Wear device is running the same software version. You can’t say that for the majority of Android smartphones, and again unlike Android smartphone each Android Wear watch has the same user experience.

Not only does Android Wear have a pretty great developer base at the moment, but it’s a fast-growing platform and big names are moving their apps to support Android Wear as well. This is one big reason to stick with and support Android Wear. If developers see LG and Samsung, two companies that helped launch the Android Wear platform ship competing products it doesn’t exactly send a great message. There’ll be no changing Samsung’s mind we doubt, and we’re sure to hear of more Tizen-powered Gear smartwatches later this year, but hopefully LG, ASUS and Motorola can use their head and stick behind Android Wear.

Sure, the fact that Android Wear is new, looks the same on every device and doesn’t have a super-long feature list but at least it’s standardized. There’s a definite path to follow with Android Wear, it works on every smartphone running Android 4.3 and above (that’s an overwhelming majority right there) and Google takes care of the software. HTC is rumored to be working on a smartwatch running their own platform, presumably to enable it to work with the iPhone like the HTC Re does, but I would be sad to see HTC go it alone. Sure, an HTC smartwatch with its own platform would work well thanks to iPhone support, but with few apps and little interest from developers how long do we think that’s going to last?

Choice is a powerful thing, but choice for choice’s sake doesn’t stand for long. The Qualcomm Toq was another choice, but really, who owns a Qualcomm Toq? I can’t help but thinking of Google’s “together, not the same” motto for Android, and hopefully smartwatch manufacturers realize that using Android Wear offers them far more benefits than going it alone would. It’s about the long game, and nobody likes to enter a platform where there’s nothing to do or nothing to see, so really sticking with Android Wear is the smart choice, as there’s plenty of things to see and do already.