Like phones, Apple and Google dominate the market for wearable operating systems. But it’s hard to understand the difference between watchOS and Wear OS well. To help, Canaltech compared the Apple Watch system with that of some Google partners. ]
How does it change visually and what features are present in just one of them? In addition, there is a usability summary. Before choosing your preferred watch operating system, know the difference between watchOS and Wear OS. It just got easier to choose a model from there.
Both watchOS and Wear OS offer a variety of watch faces, also known as watch faces. Many are free, and some of them even come pre-installed. Also, there is a difference: in Google’s system, third-party viewers can be downloaded.
To do this, just go to the Play Store, where you can download a wide variety of watch faces. Some are paid, but most are free. Many of them are customizable and can display temperature, heart rate, steps and more.
On watchOS, you are limited to Apple’s options, or you need to find a friend or person on the Internet who can share your creations right from your watch. There are also customizable watch faces on the Apple system.
If you like to switch between different watch faces during the day, you can easily switch between watchOS and Wear OS. You can choose to show work time, show exercise time, and show rest time at the end of the day.
Visually, both have a card-based interface. WatchOS is a little more subtle and overall feels like a small phone.
Usability and practicality
Wearing a watch with watchOS or Wear OS is not a big secret. They usually only have two buttons, and on more advanced models there is the option to turn the crown. In addition, the screen is touch-sensitive, which simplifies interaction with items on the screen.
Speaking of the Digital Crown, you can wear it on a button on your Apple Watch. Just rotate to move content up or down on the screen. On Wear OS, some models have a crown around the screen, which has the same ability to move menus and text up or down.
Despite the card-based interface, as mentioned above, Wear OS makes this even more obvious. Every application is a kind of circular block, even with screen formats, usually a circle.
On watchOS, the screen is square and you won’t notice many tiles when moving between apps. Plus, there’s a dock with recently used apps, just like you see on your phone. To access it, simply swipe up from the bottom edge of the main watch face.
Both systems also offer the possibility to use a voice assistant. On watchOS, Siri fills this role. On Wear OS, it’s Google Assistant. However, some watches are not supported, such as the Galaxy Watch 4 with Bixby.
Resources and apps
Both systems support a variety of applications, native or installed by each company’s store. Examples are YouTube Music and Spotify, which, for example, allow you to listen to music while walking or running down the street.
Both systems also support Google Maps, Calm and Adidas Running, as well as many other apps with different functions. Natively, you have Apple Fitness on watchOS and the subscription service option can be your personal trainer. Wear OS has Google Fit.
An interesting feature of the Gigante das Buscas application is that it can be connected to other trackers. You can monitor your activity and send data to other services like Strava, MyFitnessPal and more.
Additionally, Google Fit tracks heart rate, calories burned, and steps taken. These features also appear natively on the Apple Watch. But the Google app also offers breathing and relaxation exercises, as well as timed physical activity.
Of course, watchOS can also track your workouts. These include: running, walking and cycling. For real-time monitoring, it may be necessary to launch the application manually.
In addition, both Apple Watches and Galaxy Watches with Wear OS have GPS, heart rate and electrocardiogram sensors. Depending on the model, they may also monitor blood oxygen levels.
Another interesting feature is the ability to use the watch as a digital wallet. With Apple Pay and Wallet, with watchOS, with Google Pay, with Wear OS. In the case of the Galaxy Watch 4, you have Samsung Pay integrated, but you can also use Google’s solution.
There is an important difference between watchOS and all other wearable operating systems: compatibility.
Another important issue of watchOS is that, from version 8, it is necessary for the iPhone to be up to date. If you don’t have iOS 15 or later, your Apple Watch won’t pair with your phone.
Wear OS works with just about any phone, as long as it’s not too outdated or running a version of Android Go (and has the Google Play Store installed). You can use the clock with Google system on Android and iPhone.
In addition to the operating system, there are issues with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and mobile networks. In this case, they both connect to your phone using the first technology and often offer the second technology to display notifications when they are away from the device.
For cellular, it varies by model. There is an Apple Watch with or without LTE support (at some point in the future, a 5G-enabled option should appear).
As you can see, watches with watchOS and Wear OS go far beyond Activity Monitor with replicated mobile notifications. They are standalone devices and are simpler to use than they look.
These systems are very similar and have similar functionality. What Apple is building for its watchOS, what Google is building for its Wear OS goes hand in hand.
However, it is important to keep in mind that a watch equipped with the Search Giant operating system may not have all the features of the Apple Watch. The most common models don’t offer all the features, so it’s a good idea to check the feature list before you buy.
Probably the main point of difference between them is compatibility. While Wear OS smartwatches can connect to just about any phone released in recent years, watchOS is limited to the iPhone.
It does not help to have an Android smartphone and try to use an Apple Watch. It needs to be paired with a company phone and is useless if no one in your household has it.
Having said that, I personally think watchOS is a bit more optimized than Wear OS. But I believe most users will be happy with it.