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Circuit Breaker

Why Google had to rename Android Wear

Android smartwatches are in the news recently, which is kind of news on its own, since it’s felt like Google’s smartwatch platform has been running on autopilot for the past year. But instead of new hardware or new software features, the news is that Google has changed the name of its smartwatch platform. Android Wear is no more. It is now the platform-agnostic Wear OS from here on out.

It makes sense why Google would make this change: according to its own data, one out of three Android Wear watches is paired to an iPhone, so taking Android out of the name could help broaden the audience. There’s also the ongoing trend of Google minimizing the use of the word “Android” in its product portfolio (see: Android Pay is now Google Pay).

But this change doesn’t bring about a new design, new features, or perhaps most importantly, a new focus to Google’s smartwatch efforts. It’s merely a new name and logo, and that’s it. The Wear OS portfolio of devices is now dominated by fashion brands such as Fossil, Movado, and Michael Kors, which have different priorities than tech companies. Instead of packing the latest and greatest tech advancements in them, these watches focus on design trends that can grow stale after a single season. Skagen’s new Falster smartwatch looks great, with a sleek design and comfortable fit, but it lacks any sort of advancement in features or technology over Android Wear watches released three years ago.

We might learn more about Google’s plans for Wear OS at the Google I/O developer conference in a few months, but until then, check out our segment from this week’s Circuit Breaker Live for more.

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Watch the full Circuit Breaker Live episode here: