Since its inception, the Apple Watch has a largely consistent core. Focus on apps with notifications, fitness, and other features around them. With the upcoming release of watchOS 10, it looks like Apple will adopt an experience much like that of Google Wear OS 3.
As I mentioned bloomberg Mark Gurman Last weekend, Apple was redesigning its watchOS platform for the Apple Watch. This tenth iteration of the platform is said to contain “notable changes” from the current versions, especially with an emphasis on widgets over apps. Mark Gorman explained:
The plan is to let users scroll through a series of different widgets — to track activity, weather, stock tickers, calendar appointments, and more — rather than having them launch apps.
This will work with any watch face, and works like the iOS widgets for phones. It appears that access to widgets will replace the “click” of the Digital Crown on the side of the device. This action is currently mapped to the app drawer, so this is definitely a game changer for the experience.
Gurman explained the job on Twitter and 9to5Mac More details on what’s to come.
Indeed, this is very similar to the current interface of Google Wear OS 3.
In Wear OS as it exists today, the watch face has widgets – called “tiles” – to the left or right in a rotating menu that the user can customize. Widgets include insight or actionable information that includes weather, stock tickers, calendars, and more, just as Gurman Reports comes to your Apple Watch.
The main difference with Apple Watch widgets seems to be that they’re buried under a button tap, where they’re available in Wear OS with a swipe in either direction. On Wear OS, pressing the power button (or the crown) opens the app drawer.
Another thing that Apple’s app will almost certainly change is third-party support. While Wear OS widgets support third-party apps, they are far from widely used. Mostly, it seems to be common for fitness apps and first-party apps on non-Google Wear OS watches. The vast majority of third-party Wear OS apps, even new ones, ignore this feature. So, really, Apple is putting more focus on something that Wear OS is really ready to go that could be good for Google’s platform in the long run.
Of course, it’s funny to look back on the fact that Apple technically had this feature first. Since 2014, the Apple Watch has supported the “Glances” feature, which can highlight “relevant notifications” through a custom user interface for each app. But, finally, Apple threw in the towel on “Glances” again in watchOS 3, two years before Google Tiles were introduced for older Wear OS versions.
More on Wear OS:
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