Android Wear has received a lot of buzz lately, and it’s with good reason. There are now officially six Android Wear devices announced, with more on the way, and all the internet is fully abuzz. I’ve been sitting behind my many portals to the internet, (desktop, Chromebook, phone and tablet) and have observed the battle that has once again erupted in the tech land. I’m not speaking about Android Wear vs the iWatch, or whatever it will be called, because officially, Apple’s supposed wearable time piece does not yet exist; instead, I’m looking at the battle among the Android OEMs and their watches.
In a previous post, I voiced my displeasure regarding the way in which some Android OEMs handled the releases of their wearables; namely, LG and Samsung. Some persons agreed but many said that they bore no buyer remorse, and that was nice to hear above all else. As I observed the Wear Armada so to speak, I realised that this is what Google wants Android to be. This is what they’re pushing for.
There’s one thing that all the above watches have in common; their software. It’s identical and it is, for the most part, controlled by Google. If this were said about all Android phones, Nexus ‘fanboys’ like myself, would lose their minds. Sadly, these are watches and not phones, but I feel like it’s a step in the right direction, and I’ll tell you why. It feels like forever since Google, Android and all things related have received an unabated bashing because of the perceived fragmentation of the OS, or the steep learning curve that one must endure as they move between devices from various OEMs. Google Play Services has done a lot to remove the harm on the inside, but the outer ugliness and disjointed appearance is still present.
For a very long time, I have felt like Android phones should only differentiate on hardware, and specially included apps a la Motorola, while maintaining the same core software and user interface. This has been more common over the past year or so, but it’s still a far cry from the ideals in my mind. ZTE, the chinese OEM, has announced that their future international devices will come with the Google Now Launcher, and the polarizing OnePlus One offers the ability to run a Google-like (what we usually refer to as stock Android) appearance from the beginning. Add this to Motorola’s X, G and E, along with Nexus and GPe (Google Play Edition) offerings from Google, and we can clearly see that more devices are beginning to offer a streamlined Android experience.
Over the years, I have come to expect Google to always find solutions for perceived problems, and this one is no different (that is, if you consider it a problem). At I/O, Android One was announced and it promises to to offer, again, stock-like Android devices to people in emerging markets, with Google handling the updates themselves. Even the name Android One suggests that Google is longing for unison and it is very much akin to the now famous Android Wear; different hardware but the same software.
In a recent post on the official Google blog from ‘Googlers,’ they promise some “updates to Wear that will help you get even more out of your watch—and the rest of your life, too.” By updates to Wear, they mean all Wear devices. All six of them, regardless of the OEM. I saw the pain in my brother’s eyes as he switched from the Note 2, to the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, and then to the Nexus 4. Each time, he had to relearn the UI, the features or lack thereof, and it was a severe bother, not to mention a consumer of his precious time. Think of the millions of people who switch OEMs monthly and are unprepared for the shock that awaits them on their new device. Google wants to right this wrong, and I support their efforts.
I long for the day when we can switch phones from different OEMs and have the same experience each time, and I know that somewhere in Mountain View, there’s an engineer (read nerd) who is willing and itching to make this happen. Tell us Android users, would rather OEMs stick to their skins, or do you think that a familiar UI and UX would benefit the Android ecosystem more?[socialpoll id=”2219973″]