Wear OS isn’t a completely dead platform, but as I wrote up a couple of weeks ago, the wearable OS from Google isn’t in a great place at the moment. That was made clearer this week during Google I/O, where there wasn’t a single session or mention of Wear OS throughout the 3-day developer festival.
Because of the lack of Wear OS-related happenings, an I/O attendee asked the Android team during the Android Fireside Chat what was up. Specifically, while wearing what appears to be a Wear OS watch and pointing out the “distinct lack of mention” of the OS from the week’s festivities, he asked the Android team if it was a “dead platform” and if we should be “worried?”
Dave Burke, who is the VP of engineering for Android, responded in a semi-joking way about how there was no representative from the Wear OS team on stage with them during the Android Fireside Chat, which probably confirmed the point of the question. He further giggled about not knowing if there was any Wear OS anything at the show, until someone pointed out that there may be a part-time, unpaid intern over in the sandbox. OK, I made up the intern part.
All funny business aside, Burke said that Wear OS and wearables are something they are “continuing to invest in” and that they are “really excited about wearables,” have “hired more people,” and are “investing.” They are investing, guys.
It’s hard to take that as a convincing statement that they are serious about wearables. Google hasn’t shown any seriousness at all recently, outside of an investment in a secret technology from Fossil earlier this year that they hope will benefit others making watches. Google doesn’t seem like it wants to make its own Wear OS watch, its partners not named Fossil aren’t exactly pumping them out these days, and companies like Qualcomm, who are supposed to help advance the platform from the inside, haven’t done anything meaningful in about 4 years. Is Google still making that sport mode that was promised with the launch of the Wear 3100? Who knows.
Of course, Google could always show up in October at the Pixel 4 event with its first watch running some new magical chipset to power it that will help us quickly forget all the bad times. Or maybe they’ll still be investing from the sandbox.