Over the previous several months, Google’s Wear OS has made excellent progress, including the hardware department. However, I’ve been using the TicWatch Pro 4 G recently, and it reminds me that despite Google’s best efforts, Wear OS is not prepared for LTE.
Wear OS has been supporting LTE as a platform since being called Android Wear 2.0. Not much has altered since that time. We’ve seen a couple of watches supporting the function, like Huawei Watch 2, LG Watch Sport, and Verizon Wear24 and ZTE Quartz, which are short-lived. For one reason or another, most of these were considered failures, but Mobvoi’s new TicWatch Pro 4 G shows some true promise.
Regardless of the hardware on which it runs, however, the issue with using Wear OS with LTE is that it is merely not prepared to be used as a standalone smartwatch, and because of the apps, it’s really all.
Wear OS has an enormous app ecosystem, but the vast majority depend on your smartphone’s constant tether. That implies many of them are basically useless on LTE. Fortunately, Google Maps is an exception to this, but even there, without a mobile, the functionality of GPS is not as precise.
Let’s look at a few instances. Email is often used on our smartphones, but an email provider is totally missing from Wear OS. Beyond a notice, there is no formal Gmail app to access your messages. Third-party customers are accessible, but the fact that this key feature is not formally accessible is almost awkward.
There’s also music on Wear OS in a strange state. LTE watches with a speaker can stream music, but only with applications that are supported, and the only major service that supports Google Play Music. Ignoring that Play Music is set to go away and that there is no YouTube Music app yet, Spotify’s Wear OS app does not allow you to stream music either. Only your linked smartphone can monitor that app, rendering it useless on Wear OS.
Messaging is another difficult one. SMS operates with LTE on Wear OS, although it is particularly unable to access emails on your mobile, but relies on the phone number of the watch. Both Facebook Messenger and Telegram have proper platform apps, but not other choices such as WhatsApp or Slack. Granted, there’s also something missing from Apple Watch. That’s very probable to alter with upcoming updates for watchOS, though.
Let’s speak about the obvious as well. Social media is what most of us on our smartphones are fairly addicted to. This is an area that at least officially can not be handled by Wear OS. For this form factor, Twitter would be my greatest request, but there’s no formal app to do that. There’s also no YouTube app like the Galaxy watch Active2, but it’s likely not a poor thing.
Personally, from a smartwatch, none of this is anything I truly wished. Smartwatches should, in my view, be an expansion of your smartphone, not an completely different device. Nevertheless, that seems to be where the sector is going, most likely because that’s what Apple was doing.
With LTE, it might be helpful to have a complete phone attached to your wrist, but that depends on the applications you depend on. In its present state, without a neighboring smartphone, it is really difficult to use Wear OS for any length of moment. I just don’t believe that the platform is prepared for LTE for that purpose.