Google and Samsung hope two wrongs make a wearable right

Last week Google almost apologetically slipped out the news that it’s merging its wearable device OS with Samsung’s one.

Wear is the stripped-down version of Android designed for smart watches and that sort of thing. It doesn’t seem to have taken off, presumably in part due to the fact that the biggest Android device maker – Samsung – has its own wearable OS called Tizen. It seems both companies have grown desperate enough to compromise and combine their efforts in this sector.

The announcement was made at the Google I/O event but was snuck out so surreptitiously that we missed it. As you can see from the tweet below, Google doesn’t have anything profound to reveal on the matter, other than it’s a great idea. That begs the question of why it took them so long to do it.

In a supporting blog Bjorn Kilburn, Director of Product Management for Wear, said “Samsung and Google have a long history of collaboration. Now, we’re bringing the best of Wear and Tizen into a single, unified platform. By working together we have been able to take strengths of each and combine them into an experience that has faster performance, longer battery life and more of the apps you love available for the watch.”

In many ways this is even more embarrassing for Samsung. Tizen was the culmination of many abortive attempts to develop an alternative smartphone OS to Android from scratch8-10 years ago. Samsung ended up concluding it was only good for smart watches and TVs, but it seems even the former use case has failed to take off, so its last claim to independence from Google in the mobile space has been lost.

Kilburn made the inevitable claims about how the combined platform will represent the best of both worlds, but that remains to be seen. It will also be interesting to see what other Android Wear OEMs think of there being such a strong Samsung influence.

Most sensible people realised long ago that smart watches are a bit of a waste of time (pun intended). They’re useless as standalone devices and massively overpriced as health tracker/smartphone alert peripherals, and no amount of OS tinkering is going to change that.

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