Google's WearOS battle with Android to hand smartwatch crown to Apple's watchOS

Google's WearOS will do well in the smartwatch market, but will trail Apple's watchOS largely because wearable makers will opt for Android and do their own customization.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

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Apple's WatchOS will continue to be the leading smartwatch platform through 2022, but largely because Google's WearOS will compete with another one of the search giant's creations--Android.

IDC released its global wearable device projections through 2022 and the standards require a bit of a double take. Note how Wear OS and Android are in a virtual tie in 2022 and trail Apple.


Jitesh Ubrani, an analyst at IDC, outlined the differences between Wear OS, formerly Android Wear, and Android. Simply put, the difference to developers is control. He said.

Brands who use Android in their wearables take the open sourced version and customize it to their liking and often include non Google services. Since the OS is open sourced, Google didn't have a say in how it's used or customized. WearOS on the other hand is Google's official OS built for smartwatches and thereby requires Google's "blessing."

The wearables and smartwatch makers using Android are typically in Asia. Devices using Android include vendors such as Mobvoi, Abardeen (V328, V118, V116), XTC (Z2 and Z3). Google lacks services in China.

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Ubrani noted that WearOS is a bit of a laggard of late and Android-based watches will be Google's biggest competitor.

IDC estimates that 124.9 million wearables will ship in 2018, up 8.2 percent from 2017.

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