The smartwatch market is filling up with unique hardware designs to suit your tastes, but many of them share identical software features, as they are running Google’s Android Wear OS. Huawei recently joined the smartwatch market with its announcement at MWC 2015, but the company is apparently unhappy with the lack of freedom offered by the Android Wear platform.
Yang Yong, Huawei’s Vice President of Product Management, citing the company’s own market research, suggests that consumers are looking for more unique features with their smartwatches. Something that looks and feels their own and that isn’t just a standard device. The problem, as he puts it, is that the platform makes it very difficult for competing companies to differentiate their products.
“Android Wear is not as open as Android. For the watch it cannot be a standard.” Yang Yong, Huawei’s Vice President of Product Management
Beside hardware aesthetics, Android Wear only really allows the manufacturer to supply interchangeable watch faces. The user interface, apps and menus cannot be adjusted and additional features can’t seem to be embedded into the OS as they have been done with Android. This lack of freedom also makes it more difficult for companies to experiment with the hardware formula and features, as software support relies on Google. However, the upside for consumers is that features are supported across all Android products.
“What we are doing is trying to make from the hardware view, in the design view, in the software view, in the surface view, we are trying to differentiate our watch to appeal to the consumers who will use it.” – Yang Yong
Android Wear is likely to evolve over time and may eventually assuage Huawei’s concerns, but the question for Google and manufacturers is whether consumer demands can be met more efficiently by using a different OS right now.
Samsung has been working on its Tizen platform for a while and other smartwatch manufacturers are also looking into their own operating systems, albeit for individual reasons. LG has already unveiled its Wearable Platform OS, based on webOS, with its Urbane watch, and Asus CEO Jerry Shen has announced that a future smartwatch being developed by the company will not be running Android Wear.
Google’s wearable platform isn’t going anywhere just yet, but it doesn’t seem to be catering to all manufacturer needs in its current form. Would you like to see a more open Android Wear OS, or is Google’s tight control helping to focus the growing wearables market?