In case your telephone runs Android, and also you’re taken with shopping for a smartwatch, your journey begins with answering a single elementary query: Samsung Gear or Android Put on? Certain, there are different smartwatch platforms that work with Android telephones, however Gear (maybe finest represented by the Gear S3) and Android Put on (represented by watches too quite a few to say) have essentially the most mature ecosystems and refined .
Google’s Android Put on platform has robust third-party app assist, and for those who go for a Put on watch, you possibly can select from all kinds of fashions in all shapes, sizes and kinds. Samsung, in the meantime, has gone its personal method with its Gear smartwatch line-up. These watches run Samsung software program, and cling strictly to the Samsung ecosystem, but in addition supply some advantages that Put on watches don’t.
Smartwatches will be virtually as advanced and diverse as smartphones, so you may wish to think about the next standards earlier than you determine which platform is the suitable one for you.
A fast look at a daily watch tells you the time, however a smartwatch can let you know every thing that is happening in your digital world with notification sync. Each Samsung Gear and Android Put on can present notifications out of your telephone, however the best way they do it is rather totally different.
Android Put on’s interface relies virtually completely on notifications. You swipe up and all the way down to web page by means of them, and also you get every thing, together with emails, picture messages, and media playback notifications. Android Put on, nevertheless, additionally unbundles all of the bundled notifications out of your telephone. The upshot is every e mail notification you get on the Put on watch has its personal separate web page, and that may be tedious to navigate for those who get a variety of e mail.
It’s additionally price noting that the rotating crown for scrolling by means of notification lists is barely accessible on just a few Put on watches—notably the LG Watch Sport. This implies you higher get used to swiping.
Samsung Gear retains notifications bundled and locations them to the left of the watch face. On most Samsung watches, you possibly can flip by means of them with a swipe or with Samsung’s rotating bezel.
Every notification stack will be expanded, and the rotating bezel shortly scrolls by means of them. Media notifications aren’t proven natively on Gear watches, however you do have a playback widget that may be positioned off to the suitable of the watch face (widget location for all apps is customizable). This strategy is extra handy than, say, looking by means of a stack of Android Put on e mail notifications to discover a play button.
Each platforms assist two-way sync. This lets you cope with notifications in your watch, and never see them once more the following time you choose up the telephone. Neither notification engine is inherently higher, however Samsung’s strategy makes coping with massive volumes of e mail simpler.
As you may anticipate, Samsung’s watches run Samsung Well being whereas Android Put on is tied into Google Match. Nevertheless, Android Put on system makers may also embody their very own additional health apps. So, for instance, for those who’re already utilizing a Huawei health app in your Huawei telephone, a Huawei smartwatch may make sense.
Google Match is nice for step counting and coronary heart charge monitoring, however its train options are rudimentary, and Google has but to crack the code on automated monitoring for exercises. Additionally, some Android Put on units—even very costly ones—do not have coronary heart charge sensors in any respect.
Health monitoring is likely one of the Gear watches’ killer options. They monitor steps and pattern your coronary heart charge, and Samsung’s train monitoring is borderline magical. Inside just a few seconds of beginning an train, watches just like the Gear S3 and Gear Sport can determine what you are doing—whether or not that be operating, strolling, elliptical, biking or extra—and start logging the exercise. No extra setup is required and all of your information is saved to Samsung Well being. The Gear Sport may also do extra superior issues like swim monitoring.
This one is a blowout. Samsung Gear units are worlds higher than Android Put on at health monitoring. Not one of the third-party health apps on Android Put on can match the facility of Samsung’s built-in options.
Google properly tied Android Put on apps into the Play Retailer ecosystem by encouraging builders so as to add Android Put on assist to current apps. In Put on 2.zero and later, you possibly can even browse the Play Retailer in your watch. The app ecosystem is not as deep as it’s for telephones, however lots of the high builders have added assist. There are apps from Nest, IFTTT, Play Music , Fb Messenger, and extra.
Over in Samsung land, poor app choice is likely one of the largest drawbacks for Gear watches. The pre-installed apps are the very best ones on the platform as a result of builders haven’t gotten critical about supporting Samsung’s Tizen software program on any system, neither telephones nor watches. The one apps price downloading are the handful that have been developed in partnership with Samsung, like Flipboard and Spotify.
All that stated, navigating your app listing on Samsung Gear is de facto cool: You should utilize the rotating bezel to focus on apps, after which faucet within the center to launch. That is a lot simpler than tapping the tiny icons on Android Put on.
However this does not save Samsung on this class. App assist is a transparent win for Android Put on.
Voice and digital assistants
Telephones have usually grow to be simpler to make use of as their screens have gotten greater, however watches can’t play that sport—they should match on our wrists, in spite of everything. Fortunately, voice interplay provides us an alternative choice to contact management for replying to messages and getting issues finished, and it’s a cornerstone of the Android Put on expertise because of incredible integration with Google Assistant.
Android Put on’s voice enter is usually surprisingly correct, and a long-press of the crown button launches Google Assistant from any display screen. Assistant on a Put on watch presents many of the similar capabilities as Assistant in your telephone or a Google Dwelling good speaker—you possibly can carry out searches, set reminders, and management good residence units, amongst different methods.
Samsung is in a transitional interval with voice management on its telephones. It now has its personal Bixby digital assistant, however Bixby doesn’t supply very robust assist for apps and providers. What’s extra, there’s no Bixby on Gear watches but, so the voice management platform stays S Voice, and it is undoubtedly displaying its age. It is serviceable for inputting textual content or making a reminder, however Google Assistant on Android Put on is extra correct. What’s extra, S Voice is horrible with regards to search queries, and there isn’t any good residence integration.
Google Assistant is a a lot better expertise, in order that’s an enormous win for Android Put on.
The story right here is similar to the one for apps. Android Put on has many extra choices because of larger developer adoption. Put on watch faces are distributed by means of the Play Retailer, typically together with apps. These watch faces may also show information pulled from different apps, providing you with “problems” such as you’d discover on a flowery analog watch.
On Samsung Gear, watch face choice is far weaker. It is higher than the app scenario, however few of the Gear faces are as customizable or highly effective as what you discover on Put on. The one brilliant spot: Customized watch face design apps like Facer and Watchmaker work on each platforms.
Utilizing your watch as a telephone for voice calls is dealt with similarly on each platforms, however the capabilities differ primarily based on the precise watch you will have. Calls that are available to your linked telephone present up as notifications on each Android Put on and Samsung Gear. Most Android Put on units have audio system and microphones so you possibly can really take the decision with out touching your telephone. Some Put on watches even have LTE connections so you possibly can take calls with out your telephone current. And, after all, you possibly can dismiss a telephone name completely out of your watch. That’s desk stakes.
Gear units may also reply calls out of your telephone, however assist varies throughout the mannequin vary. The newer Gear Sport, for one, lacks a speaker, so you possibly can reply and place calls from that watch, however you want a linked telephone or Bluetooth headset so as to really hear something.
Additionally, there’s just one LTE watch on the Gear facet proper now, the Gear S3 Frontier. Samsung’s watches do have a extra strong dialer, although. The Android Put on dial pad is cramped, making it annoying to put calls to numbers you do not have saved.
There are at the moment a number of dozen smartwatches operating Android Put on, giving the platform wholesome selection when it comes to sizes and kinds. There are cheaper choices that value round $150 (just like the TicWatch 2) and obnoxiously costly watches, just like the $1,500 Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45. You even have smaller, easy watches just like the LG Watch Style and extra strong watches just like the Asus ZenWatch 3.
Samsung’s Gear line solely is available in a handful of flavors, all of that are on the costly facet. There’s the Gear S3, the marginally smaller Gear Sport, and the health tracker-influenced Gear Fit2/Fit2 Professional. There are additionally some older Gear S2 units nonetheless floating round. All of them have comparable kinds and have units.
Backside line: If you’d like selection, Android Put on has it.
Some Android Put on units assist Google’s cellular fee platform, Android Pay. However assist remains to be removed from a positive factor, as many watches nonetheless ship with out the required NFC .
Watches just like the Huawei Watch 2 do have NFC, permitting you to make funds from the watch at shops that settle for Android Pay. However, sadly, that is nonetheless removed from all shops.
On the Samsung Gear units, you will have Samsung Pay, and that may be far more helpful for those who get the Gear S3. That watch has the total Samsung Pay expertise, that means it could possibly do each NFC (like Android pay) and Magnetic Safe Transmission (MST). With MST, you may make funds at virtually any retailer that has a bank card reader. Nevertheless, MST is not accessible within the Gear Sport, and the Gear Fit2 Professional does not have NFC or MST.
So, cellular funds are a lot better on Samsung, so long as you get the Gear S3. In any other case, it is a draw.
Which platform is best for you?
In case you’re torn on which approach to go, begin by testing the fashion of Samsung’s Gear units. There are only some, so if they do not enchantment to you, Android Put on’s bigger watch ecosystem will most likely be extra to your liking. Android Put on can be robust with regards to apps and watch faces, and the Google Assistant integration is great.
Samsung Gear excels in health monitoring—it is uncanny how shortly and precisely it could possibly detect exercises. Samsung’s Gear software program can be higher for managing massive numbers of notifications, and the interface is simple to navigate with the rotating bezel. Android Put on’s rotating crown is good, however is barely accessible on just a few units.