Google (GOOG, GOOGL) on Tuesday revealed it is teaming up with Samsung to release a new smartwatch operating system. The OS, which will still be called WearOS, combines Google's OS with Samsung's Tizen OS to improve battery life and performance on the companies' smartwatches.
The new OS, announced at Google's I/O developer conference, will feature an updated look and capabilities including turn-by-turn directions from Google Maps, Google Pay, and on-device Google Music functionality.
Bringing Samsung on board to help further build out the WearOS could prove to be a huge benefit for Google, as the company has already put out a number of relatively successful wearables. Samsung's technology and devices are top-notch, with attractive designs and unique interfaces like a turnable watch face that allows you to control on-screen features.
A competitor to the Apple Watch
Combining the companies' efforts could prove to be especially helpful in building out a true competitor to Apple's (AAPL) own Apple Watch. Google's smartwatch efforts have floundered over the years, despite the fact that Google says there are 3 billion active Android devices in the world.
Apple, meanwhile, has managed to become the world leader in smartwatches. According to Counterpoint Research, the company controls a 40% market share of the global smartwatch market. The next closet competitor, Samsung, has 10%. So it behooves both Google and Samsung to work together to try to take on the iPhone maker.
Google also announced that it's bringing health tracking and on-wrist celebrations from Fitbit to WearOS. Google completed its $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit in January, and the addition of the company's fitness capabilities will be essential to making Google's watches true competitors for Apple Watch, which has quickly set itself up as an impressive health tracker.
In December, Apple pushed further into the fitness space by launching its Apple Fitness+ workout programs for the Apple Watch. Fitbit offers similar features complete with workout routines and health tracking.
Fitness is one of the most important features of any modern smartwatch, and if Google can make proper use of Fitbit's own impressive suite of fitness features, it could become the first big threat to the Apple Watch yet.
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