The Apple Watch and smartwatches running Google’s Android Wear are becoming increasingly similar. Product differentiators so far are based primarily on the software functions of the devices, and with Apple’s recent watchOS updates, Android Wear devices seem to offer comparable experiences.
After delays, Apple’s latest watchOS was released and advanced some aspects of the Apple Watch, including improved functionality and customization. Google’s Android Wear partners are also launching improved products, however. Motorola’s popular Moto 360 was updated recently and now includes an even wider range of bands and other stylistic options. Samsung’s announcement of its latest, now round smartwatch, the Gear S2, was met with early praise. Critics were especially receptive to its rotating bezel and its added functionality. However, the Samsung Gear S2 runs the company’s own Tizen software and does not run Google’s Android Wear smartwatch OS.
One of the most important moments in wearable tech of weeks passed is Google’s announcement that Android Wear watches can now be paired with an iPhone. Features like e-mail alerts and calendar updates will work when used with an iPhone, but Android Wear will be limited in what it can do. Any app that requires the Android Google Play store will not operate. Additionally, Apple places restrictions on what rival watchmakers can do with its platform.
However, in a world where the Apple Watch and Android Wear watches are performing so similarly on their respective native platforms, Apple has taken steps to differentiate on hardware as well. Apple has recently added color options usually restricted for its higher end models of the Apple Watch to the cheaper segment as well. This represents an update to the Watch’s exterior design in about half the period that an update to a smartphone’s exterior design would take place. Apple may be attempting to promote slouching sales of its smartwatch if the color options are changing so soon after launch.
Android Wear smartwatches have found the most success against the Apple Watch in the cheaper market. Apple does not disclose their smartwatch’s specific sales numbers, making it difficult to judge where their offering stands. However, estimates have predicted sales between 9 and 12 million for the Apple Watch and sales between 4 to 6 million for all Android Wear devices.