Google’s smartwatch platform, Wear OS, hasn’t obtained a complete lot of affection from the corporate, however frankly, the neglect is beginning to get ridiculous. According to 9to5Google, new Wear OS watch house owners at the moment are discovering it tough to put in sure apps after the corporate informed builders it was taking out its legacy app set up methodology.
To again up a bit, in 2017 Google modified the way in which Wear OS (then Android Wear 2.0) customers downloaded third-party apps onto their smartwatches. Previously, smartwatch apps had been bundled with telephone variations. But Google then launched a standalone, on-wrist app retailer. The transfer was meant to make Wear OS watches much less reliant on telephones to operate, however the outdated methodology was nonetheless an possibility, so if you needed, you possibly can work out which apps had been put in in your Wear OS watch by way of the Apps on Your Phone part of the Play Store.
However, final month Google apparently despatched out an e mail to builders saying this legacy embedded mannequin can be kaput as of March 10. In its e mail, Google mentioned it was taking out the embedded legacy app mannequin as a result of it added extreme bloat to the APK for non-smartwatch customers. It additionally revealed that apps utilizing this methodology would disappear from the Apps on Your Phone part and would even be undiscoverable on the on-wrist Play Store. Developers had been additionally inspired emigrate to the newer multi-APK mannequin so their apps can be discoverable and scale back bloat on telephone apps.
A standalone, on-wrist app retailer isn’t a nasty factor. (Hell, Apple solely embraced one with the Series 5.) However, for those who’ve ever used Wear OS, trying to find apps that you just completely know to exist doesn’t all the time work the way in which you need. For occasion, I’ve tried trying to find well-known apps like Uber and Google Maps within the Wear OS Play Store, solely to be foiled by the interface. Typing on a small display screen isn’t enjoyable, and relying on what processor your Wear OS watch has, the entire thing could be tediously sluggish. It’s not horrible for those who’re solely downloading one or two apps. However, for those who’re establishing a brand new smartwatch, it’s a lot simpler to leap off from apps you already use in your telephone that additionally work in your watch. Forcing Wear OS customers—particularly those that have been loyal to the platform for a very long time—to individually obtain every part by way of the wrist is silly. Forcing new Wear OS customers to do that is setting folks as much as hate the platform or underutilize one of many extra strong third-party smartwatch app shops.
Besides the inconvenience, the opposite drawback right here is that for those who purchase a brand new telephone and re-pair your current Wear OS watch, the Apps on Your Phone possibility may also go poof within the night time. If the apps you depend on haven’t up to date to the brand new manner of doing issues—and let’s be actual, some builders haven’t been itching to prioritize Wear OS apps—you possibly can be preventing an uphill battle. In at the very least one occasion, a diabetic consumer took to the Wear OS subreddit to notice that after upgrading to a Pixel 5, they may now not use the companion app for his or her Dexcom G6 glucose monitor. The app was on their telephone, however now there was no approach to set up it on their watch after re-pairing required a manufacturing unit replace. There are workarounds, positive, however the common particular person doesn’t have the time for this nonsense.
This explicit instance shouldn’t be nice. Dexcom undoubtedly deserves some warmth for leaving Wear OS customers in a lurch. After all, Google did e mail builders this modification was coming and the onus is on them to maintain their apps up to date. However, it’s additionally on Google to take a position on this platform to make it value their whereas.
Google leads the way in which right here. If you’re an app developer, what does it seem like when Google prioritizes a YouTube Music app for the Apple Watch over its personal platform? Are you alleged to really feel incentivized to roll out new variations when Wear OS barely will get any updates? How about the truth that Google’s been conscious the “Hey Google” set off key phrase for Assistant on Wear OS has been damaged for months?
One of the largest causes for an Android consumer to go for Wear OS over Samsung’s Tizen (although quickly it’s possible you’ll not have that possibility) is a extra strong app retailer, Google Assistant, and Google Pay. Two out of three of those causes now include asterisks. Users shouldn’t should depend on workarounds and even manufacturing unit reset their Wear OS watches after they improve to a brand new telephone. Google had the choice right here to determine one other manner, to teach customers and builders of what was coming.
For as a lot as Wear OS is the butt of the joke within the smartwatch world, we’d all be higher off it thrived. But after months of tales like this, does Google even need that?