Wear practical OS 3: Google’s wearable future for the free market

Montblanc invited me to take a look at its new (e Very expensive) Wear a smartwatch running OS 3. Haven’t had much time with it and you can anticipate a larger review of both the software and this watch coming later, but the stripped down version is that Wear OS 3 isn’t a bullet silver for Android wearable issues. If anything, it looks like Google is putting more responsibility on manufacturers to fix the situation, and I’m not sure that’s wise.

The ultra-premium Montblanc Summit 3

As a device-specific experience, I should reiterate what the Montblanc Summit 3 is and it’s not a smartwatch that most of our readers will be interested in, mainly due to its ultra premium price of $ 1,290. I know it sounds mouth watering, but this is not a “normal” smartwatch. Montblanc is positioning it over higher-end versions of the Apple Watch with features like a solid sapphire crystal, titanium body, and other ultra-luxurious and durable design choices.
One aspect of the watch that isn’t as premium is the chipset, which uses the older Wear 4100+. While we all look forward to Wear OS 3 in addition to the new W5 + Gen1 and the various devices that will use that combo, this is objectively a more dated experience.

The Summit 3 rounds out its spec sheet with a mid-sized 400mAh battery that we’re told should last a day or two on a charge, depending on use, and recharges in about an hour. 1GB of RAM isn’t unusual for a wearable device, as is 8GB of storage. The 5 ATM water resistance means it should survive a dip, and the 1.28-inch OLED screen is pretty standard. It can measure heart rate, sleep, and blood oxygen level, and can also track eight different types of workouts: cycling (outdoor and indoor), running, treadmill, HIIT, yoga, hiking, and “other”, with others on the way. Montblanc says it doesn’t include activities like swimming because other apps in the store can fill that gap. It might seem like a small thing, but with other software tweaks it’s important and I’ll talk about it in more detail later.
As a more premium product, Montblanc offers some extra service benefits. If the battery starts to run out prematurely while it’s under warranty, it will be replaced, and even if it’s out of warranty, it can be replaced at a cost (somewhere around $ 100, we’re told). Damage to the bodywork of titanium or stainless steel parts can also be repaired, but not damage to the sapphire crystal.
Montblanc is not entirely responsible for software support – Google and Qualcomm also play a role there – but the company says it will do everything it can to deliver new features and watch faces over time, noting that many of its older Wear operating systems are wearable-based devices. they are still undergoing a few changes.

Wear OS 3

Before discussing the important details of the software, I should point out that I already have a lot of feelings about Wear OS 3. Between the initial Samsung exclusivity, the old news about supported platforms, and the almost endless wait for real devices running the non-Samsung version to land, I’m frustrated with the situation. Now that we’ve learned more about how the future of the platform has objectively changed, I’m not sure Google has the right plans to ensure success. Like it or hate it, Wear OS 3 is getting even closer to the platform ideology before the product.
The overall Wear OS 3 software experience on the Montblanc Summit 3 will look familiar if you’ve used an old Wear OS 2 watch or one of the recent Galaxy Watches. I can’t give you a full tour (our time was too short), but the overall vibe is the same.

You have a home screen of the watch face with the tile-based paradigm. Swipe from the edges to navigate. One swipe from left inwards more places is back unless you’re on some kind of side-scrolling home screen plan, where the functionality changes. It’s the same consistently inconsistent experience Wear OS has had in the past.
It has the Play Store and you can install apps made for Wear OS. The animations are slightly different, with the nested menus having a more subtle zoom effect as you go back into them, shrinking into eternity as you swipe them away. This isn’t a substantial redesign or a whole new way of interacting with Wear OS, and most of the visual changes involve the appearance of the windows, such as the curved clock you’ll notice at the top of the screen most of the time and gradient backgrounds on things like buttons.
I didn’t have a Wear OS 2 device on hand to directly compare the Summit 3 (our hands-on was arranged at the last minute) and I have to admit it’s been a few months since I’ve tried an older device. However, only a few things stood out as substantial changes for me, such as the new recent menu that lists newly accessed apps and a much larger Quick Settings menu, which has far more options than I remember with my old devices. Wear OS.

Like everywhere, Google Wallet replaces Google Pay on Wear OS 3.0, and the tiles (not quite widgets you can scroll through) have been updated to allow developers to do more fun things with them, thanks to the new APIs.
Fast Pair is one of the most significant changes we can expect that I haven’t had a chance to test. Setting up a Wear OS watch always has, always It was a frustrating and hateful process, but the actual Bluetooth pairing part of that equation will get easier because just having a Wear OS 3 device close to your phone should require it to connect. Think of it as similar to Fast Pair for things like earphones.
Although the Summit 3 uses an older Snapdragon Wear 4100+ chipset, I haven’t noticed any issues with things like stuttering or dropping frames. Performance was smooth across all devices I’ve played with. One device was in demo mode and the other was our presenter’s personal device that he had been using for some time. This was a structured experience with limited practice time, but using the watch wasn’t as annoying as I’m used to on other Wear OS devices, and this is noteworthy – maybe Wear OS 3 itself will be a bit. ‘smoother.
The thing that worries me about the future of Wear OS is an almost disposable detail mentioned by Montblanc: they are using their companion app. I thought it was pretty cool, but I remembered that it was something Fossil was also working on and that the Pixel Watch was rumored to have its own app as well. When asked to broaden the subject, a rep told us it was a requirement imposed by Google. All Wear OS 3 devices will do this to have to have your own complementary app.

Let the market solve the Android wearable problem

After the briefing, I double-checked and Fossil had explained it just last month, but the extent of that impact had escaped my radar. Every company that wants to make a Wear OS smartwatch needs to create an app now, which means that the cross-device experience is now on the shoulders of every company that makes one of those watches. Remember the lack of fitness tracking in the Montblanc app I mentioned and the limited number of exercises it could track? This is the impact of this decision. In the face of Apple’s total and terrifying cross-platform dominance, pushing the quality of experience between devices to third parties even more seems like a incredibly myopic plan.
Montblanc explained that the companion app didn’t have fitness integration yet, and the company had to build features for things like their own training modes independently, that’s why there are only eight supported workout types to get started. The company pointed out that you can use other Play Store apps to bridge the gap, and while that’s an excuse, it’s not quite Montblanc; it’s from Google.

Since Wear OS 3 is not centralized in the Google-controlled Wear OS app, the experience is about to suffer a fracture (fragmented, some might say), with several manufacturers differing not only in hardware but also in software and feature sets. On the one hand, I can see some arguing that this opens the door for others to provide new solutions and improvements beyond what Google can come up with. It’s a common argument for all platforms struggling without a so-called killer app, “let the developers get it!” But this is not a new or cutting-edge product category, just one in which competitors are already winning, and I’m not sure if throwing a whole generation of products to the whims of the free developer market and in any way they can think of. plugging these new gaps is very wise at this stage.
I hope I’m wrong in my negativity here after the years of abuse suffered by Wear OS fans. Wear OS 3 seems like Google is falling back on its all-too-frequent approach, acting as if it is above the responsibility of leading the market even as it imposes arbitrary requirements and takes a cut. You can’t have your cake and eat it too; there is a duty here that Google is not performing. This laissez-faire approach may have worked for Android, but I think it was a different time and market. Wearables aren’t phones, and Wear OS isn’t Android, even if it’s based on it. Deviating responsibility here on manufacturers seems shortsighted, only further highlighting the benefits of Apple’s more tightly controlled approach at this late stage of wearable gaming.

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