This week, Google made an announcement that was not expected: Android Wear is no more. The product is not being shuttered, but instead it has been rebranded as Wear OS by Google. Google claims that the reason for the change is related to a change in their customer base.
As our technology and partnerships have evolved, so have our users. In 2017, one out of three new Android Wear watch owners also used an iPhone. So as the watch industry gears up for another Baselworld next week, we're announcing a new name that better reflects our technology, vision, and most important of all-the people who wear our watches. We're now Wear OS by Google, a wearables operating system for everyone.
It makes sense that Google would be moving away from the Android brand. The general iPhone owner is, for one reason or another, anti-Android. Calling the platform Android Wear has likely limited sales to iPhone customers, despite iPhone accounting for a third of sales last year.
Unfortunately, the name is the least of the brand's issues. In reality, the brand needs a lot of attention, which Google has not given it for some time. Devices running the OS require a lot of interaction to get any information, for a number of reasons. For one, there is no way to pair down which notifications you receive from an app. You can either get all notifications from your email, or none. There is no way to only be informed if you get an email from your boos, for example. Second, the interface is way more complicated than it needs to be. Tons of swiping to move through apps and notifications makes the 2 seconds you save not pulling out your phone seemingly not worth it.
Hopefully, with the change of name will come some actual work from Google on the platform itself. This would not be the first time a brand change or revamp has come before a product revamp. For example, before Google modernized the nearly abandoned Google Voice product, they modernized the logo. While the product category of wearables has mostly languished of late, perhaps having some innovation and competition in the space from someone other than Apple and Samsung will revitalize demand.