A great smartwatch, held back by Google’s shortcomings

OnePlus Watch 2 showing watch face on shelf
OnePlus Watch 2 showing watch face on shelf

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Competitors breeds innovation, however saying that the Android smartwatch market has stagnated could be an understatement. Between Fossil exiting the sport and restricted choices from the likes of Mobvoi, the Android smartwatch market is, by and huge, a two-horse race between Samsung and Google. So I used to be significantly excited for the arrival of the OnePlus Watch 2 as a possible contender for one of the best Put on OS watch crown.

Regardless of its limitations, the watch is setting a brand new benchmark concerning battery life, progressive dual-OS tech, and, arguably, design. Extra importantly, the broader availability of this watch could be very interesting.

Nonetheless, regardless of all its positives, the OnePlus Watch 2 just isn’t good. I switched from an Apple Watch Extremely a couple of month in the past and, whereas my expertise has been largely constructive, I imagine the OnePlus Watch 2 is an outstanding piece of {hardware} that’s being held again by Google’s noncommittal strategy to Put on OS. Right here’s why.

OnePlus Watch 2: Giant dimension, bigger ambitions

OnePlus Watch 2 side profile

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

I’m not about to summarise every little thing I like about this smartwatch; you possibly can check with my colleague Kaitlyn’s wonderful OnePlus Watch 2 assessment for that. Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that OnePlus has made a whole turnabout with this new watch. Whereas the corporate’s first outing nailed the design, it lacked by way of precise smarts. The Watch 2 manages to excel with its distinctive construct high quality — regardless of the non-functional, albeit aesthetic, crown. It additionally has an unlimited battery that genuinely lasts me nicely over two days of energetic use, together with an hour or two of exercise monitoring daily and GPS-enabled outside runs. Elsewhere, the health metrics aren’t good however adequate for informal use, and the sleep monitoring is on level.

The OnePlus Watch 2 stands out for its unbelievable dual-OS characteristic and stellar battery life.

Most significantly, the OnePlus Watch 2 launches with Put on OS 4 out of the field. And that’s a giant win for OnePlus at a time when choices working Google’s newest wearable working system are astonishingly skinny. It brings compatibility with a variety of apps and companies, higher watch faces, integration with Google’s calendar and mail apps, and extra. For those who favor voice-based interactions, that’s represented too.

Phenomenal {hardware} let down by stagnant software program

OnePlus Watch 2 on wrist workout

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Nonetheless, probably the most vital benefit of the OnePlus Watch 2 can be its crutch. I’ll be sincere: I’ve by no means been the largest Put on OS fan. My final long-term expertise with the working system was on the OPPO Watch again in 2020. So much has modified since then. What hasn’t, although, is the solely disjointed expertise of utilizing a Put on OS watch.

Well being and health are important to me, however years down the road, Put on OS nonetheless has no standardized method of dealing with health monitoring. On the OnePlus Watch 2, the OHealth app is the first technique of monitoring health. Sadly, as we explored in our assessment, the app is just too simplistic and lacks the granular metrics that I’ve come to count on from my Apple Watch Extremely or Garmin.

Including insult to harm is the truth that well being monitoring isn’t good both. Step counts are usually inconsistent and I’ve no religion within the calorie burn info. Google might clear up this by providing a standardized well being API that different apps can use to customise the interface expertise, however that isn’t the case right here. The Apple Watch does it; why can’t Google?

On the purpose of well being monitoring, getting information out of the watch isn’t simple. Sure, I’m conscious of Well being Join however your entire course of is extremely hit and miss, and infrequently does all the information switch to Google Match. I additionally use Strava as my working information aggregator of alternative. Since neither Well being Join nor OHealth have hooks into Strava, I rely upon Strava’s integration with Google Match to drag information. The issue right here is that, as soon as once more, not all metrics are transferred throughout the board. Evaluate that with my Apple Watch Extremely, the place each time I end a exercise, the information is seamlessly transferred to Strava. I actually shouldn’t want three totally different well being apps on my cellphone to entry my exercise information.

I should not want three co-dependent apps on my cellphone simply to get higher health metrics.

In reality, I’d have anticipated Google to leverage Fitbit’s wonderful information algorithms to create a standardized health API that any app might faucet into and get seamlessly dependable information. Not solely would this enhance the health capabilities of smartwatches throughout the board, however it will additionally create a uniform baseline throughout smartwatch manufacturers. Because it stands, if I change from a Galaxy Watch to a OnePlus Watch or, maybe, a Pixel Watch, the health information algorithms don’t have any correlation in any respect.

The opposite huge problem I’ve noticed is the standard of apps. Coming again to Put on OS after a few years, it’s fairly disheartening to see that the standard of apps and companies on the Play Retailer hasn’t improved all that a lot. For instance, my favourite intermittent fasting app, Zero, nonetheless isn’t accessible on Put on OS regardless of having a totally functioning model for the Apple Watch. Equally, I’m a fan of Shelly’s good dwelling units. The corporate has launched an Apple Watch app however has no such different for Put on OS. Positive, Put on OS’ restricted person base leaves little incentive for manufacturers to put money into apps for the platform. However that hen and egg drawback, too, is wholly of Google’s doing.

An issue wholly of Google’s doing

A user reviews some of the Google apps available on their OnePlus Watch 2.

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Be it Google’s perpetual rebranding cycle, the snail-like tempo of releasing updates, or software program exclusivity with Samsung that limits choices — the very factor that makes Android merchandise so thrilling — Google has clearly handled Put on OS as a second-class citizen. The truth that fundamentals like public transit navigation are solely now coming to Put on OS, and necessities like offline maps stay lacking boggles the thoughts.

Google’s second-class citizen remedy of Put on OS with glacial updates, software program exclusivity, has created this ecosystem of restricted {hardware} choices and lackluster software program.

There’s little doubt in my thoughts that OnePlus has constructed top-of-the-line examples of Put on OS smartwatches. Sure, it’s giant, however I can study to reside with the gargantuan dimension merely due to the super battery life it presents. However all these {hardware} efforts are being let down by the lackluster software program powering the present. Whereas there are indicators that Google is lastly beginning to flip the ship round with its current Put on OS announcement, just like the hybrid interface that debuted on the OnePlus Watch 2, it’s clear that much more wants to vary to make Put on OS a formidable Apple Watch different.

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