Today’s Android Lollipop announcement – the bit I highlighted about the intersection of hardware and software, in particular – reminded me of a Moto 360 review I saw earlier today. Here’s Mike Wehner of TUAW on his week with the Android Wear watch:
It starts with the software. Syncing the Moto 360 to Android Wear on my smartphone was needlessly complicated. At one point I was told via pop-up notification to uninstall Android Wear, update Google Search, then reinstall Android Wear, in order to get it to work properly. My phone was telling me I had to delete software that was built specifically for it, in order to get it to function as intended. I have to admit that I laughed…
The fact that Apple makes the phone, the watch, and the software for both gives it a huge advantage here, whereas the Moto 360, Android Wear, and my HTC One try to do their best to play nice, but don’t always get along as intended.
Yes, I know Mike writes for an Apple-focused outlet. Take his review with a grain of salt, a ream of bias, or whatever you want. I think his point is a good one, and from it I extrapolate this:
If Google is serious about Android Wear and wearables in general, I think they need to do a “Nexus Wear” device. Perhaps they can launch the watch with Android Wear 2.0 at I/O next Spring. Apple’s big advantage in consumer electronics is their vertical integration. Android’s big problem in the same space is fragmentation that comes from their being a platform company reliant on dozens of hardware OEMs with their own needs to differentiate in a cut-throat marketplace. “Differentiation” in the OEM’s eyes is “fragmentation” in the end user’s hands when it comes to things like getting your watch and phone to play nice with one another. One way to insure a smooth user experience is to just build the phone and the watch (and the tablet, etc) yourself.
Again, the aforementioned quote from Sundar Pichai:
Advances in computing are driven at the intersection of hardware and software. That’s why we’ve always introduced Nexus devices alongside our platform releases.
There was no Nexus device alongside the first Android Wear release. I guess because Google didn’t consider Android Wear a “platform” back then. If Mike Wehner’s experience with his Moto 360 is any indication, it’s high time Google reconsidered.
Speaking of considerations, there’s that whole bit about market share versus revenue and profit in the mobile space to think about. Another, longer post might be in order soon.