Google uses Samsung to co-develop Wear OS and Fitbit to launch new smartwatches

Another major reason that Google lags behind the smartwatch competition is its lackluster health and fitness portfolio. In recent years, Apple has added electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) measurements to its watches, and rumors suggest that blood sugar monitoring will be the key. next new health feature in the upcoming Series 7 smartwatch.

But Google now owns Fitbit and is capitalizing on the clothing company’s prowess in this area. Your next Google-powered smartwatch will be packed with many features that are currently found on Fitbit devices, such as health tracking and workout progress, as well as wrist celebrations that provide additional motivation. Fitbit will also produce high-end smartwatches running Wear in the future.

However, features like ECG and SpO2 aren’t built into Wear natively. “Each of these more specialized features like ECG will depend on the manufacturer,” says Kilburn. “We allowed them to bring this type of innovation to the market, so it would depend on the launch of the specific device.” Samsung and Fitbit offer SpO2 and ECG monitoring on existing watches and trackers, so it’s likely (but unconfirmed) that these functions will still be present when their respective Wear watches debut later.

Kilburn also says Google has also worked with Fitbit (and Samsung) to rebuild the underlying health and fitness framework in Wear to make activity tracking more accurate and make it easier to collect and use data. monitoring by developers. “In the past, they had to go through the operating system to collect the different data, but we put it all together in one frame that they can use.”

Since the Fitbit app will also land on Wear, future Wear smartwatch owners can choose to use the Fitbit app or Google Fit to track fitness data. Kilburn couldn’t comment on future plans, but says anyone who chooses a Fitbit Wear smartwatch “will continue to have a great experience” with Fitbit.

Regarding future Wear updates, Kilburn hasn’t said whether Google will follow an annual update cycle like it does with Android, or how Apple releases a new watchOS version every year. Instead, expect a more frequent update rate.

Play catch up

It should be noted that while Google announced that it closed its acquisition of Fitbit in January after the approval of the European Union’s antitrust commission – provided that Google cannot use the health data of Fitbit users for any purpose. advertising and should keep Fitbit and Google data separate – it doesn’t mean the US Department of Justice automatically approved it.

A Google spokesperson said it had complied with the ministry’s review and that the “agreed waiting period had expired without their objection,” but the justice ministry’s review is still ongoing. and they have application tools they can use if they see that the acquisition is hurting the competition.

Still, even though it’s been seven years since Google launched its smartwatch platform, the company doesn’t have much to show. In the fourth quarter of 2020, Wear OS only made up 2.7% of the market, according to an analytics company. Counterpoint search. Apple saw 19% growth in global smartwatch sales over the same period and now holds 40% of the market share. Samsung grew to 10% market share and Fitbit was stagnant at 7%. Google now owns that 7%, but it still needs Samsung to develop the Wear platform.

“Apple obviously dominates, but Samsung is clearly number two,” says Jeff Fieldhack, research director at Counterpoint Research. “They have brand recognition. They sell the most connected devices by far, which is kind of the trend as well: cellular connectivity. By having a modem, you can have a stand-alone device without the need for your companion smartphone. ”

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