www.makeuseof.com WatchOS vs. Wear OS: Which Is Best?
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www.makeuseof.com WatchOS vs. Wear OS: Which Is Best?

05/05/2022  |   526 Views

Wear OS and watchOS are two of the most popular smartwatch platforms on the market. These two operating systems have many similarities and some key differences that make them unique.

To help you decide which smartwatch operating system is best for your needs, we’ll compare them in terms of features and functions and highlight what makes them similar and what sets them apart from each other. Let’s get started!

1. Device Compatibility

The main difference between watchOS and Wear OS is device compatibility. watchOS is only compatible with Apple devices, while Wear OS is compatible with both Android and iOS.

Wear OS is compatible with Android 6.0 and above (excluding Go Edition). You can use a Wear OS smartwatch with an iPhone, as long as it’s an iPhone 5S+ and later. However, you’ll get the best experience using an Android phone.

While watchOS 3 and below remain compatible with iPhone 5, the same can’t be said about Apple’s newest watchOS versions. So, for example, to use the latest Apple Watch, you may need to upgrade or update your iPhone. This is because watchOS 8 needs an iPhone 6s (or a newer model) with iOS 15 or higher and an Apple Watch Series 3 (or later).

Related: How to Update Your Apple Watch

If you’re not sure which operating system is right for you, the best way to find out is to check the compatibility of your device. A great way to do this is by visiting WearCheck on your Android device or iPhone to check its compatibility.


2. Interface

When it comes to interface, watchOS and Wear OS are pretty similar. The two operating systems use a card-based design, which makes it easy to see what’s going on at a glance.

Also, both operating systems use a simple, swipe-based interface that makes it easy to navigate around the device. However, there are a few differences.

One of the biggest differences between watchOS and Wear OS is how you interact with them. With Wear OS, you use circular app tiles to navigate and access your most-used apps quickly.

watchOS, on the other hand, features a handy Dock that also allows you to access your most recently used apps quickly. The interface lets you see your installed apps with a colorful icon map.

Each Wear OS watch comes preloaded with a set of watch faces. What’s more, you can download watch faces from Play Store. Although Apple Watch doesn’t support third-party watch faces, you can download and share watch faces with others.

3. Apps

Both watchOS and Wear OS have their own built-in apps that can do all sorts of things that you might need in your daily life. For instance, every Wear OS watch has Google Play Store pre-installed by default. For Apple, iPhone apps that have a watchOS app available are installed automatically and appear on the home screen.

www.makeuseof.com WatchOS vs. Wear OS: Which Is Best?

In addition, both platforms offer great third-party support for their apps. This means there are thousands upon thousands of apps for both operating systems, allowing you to customize your watch exactly how you want it.

When you first set up your Wear OS watch, it will contain many applications you currently have on your Android phone. These include Google Messages, Google Fit, and Google Pay.

At the moment, all Wear OS watches (except the One UI Watch-based Galaxy Watch 4) offer access to the Google Assistant. Samsung users, however, get access to Bixby, the company’s capable voice service.

Note that One UI Watch, Samsung’s smartwatch OS, is based on Wear OS. Like any other Wear OS, OneUI Watch features many popular apps, including YouTube Music, Spotify, Google Maps, Calm, and Adidas Running. The smartwatch OS also supports other popular apps from Samsung, including Samsung Pay and SmartThings.

Related: The Best SmartThings SmartApps for Your Smart Home

Apps on watchOS are just amazing! The smartwatch OS includes communication apps, health and fitness apps, and timekeeping apps, to mention a few.

watchOS also supports apps like Apple Pay and Wallet, which you can use to make secure and contactless payments. But since not all iPhones support this payment option, you may want to check your device compatibility with Apple Pay.

watchOS 8 also adds several important updates to Wallet, smart home control, and the photos app. Wallet, for example, now holds everything from your home key to your car key to credit cards and ID cards.

4. Voice Control

Your Apple Watch comes with a built-in assistant, Siri. With watchOS, Siri lets you use voice commands to open apps and manage devices like smart bulbs and smart TV from your wrist. Just raise your wrist and say “Hey Siri” to get started.

Siri also allows you to send messages or start iMessage chats with friends, set an alarm or timer, and check your heart rate.

Google Assistant is Wear OS’s answer to Apple’s Siri. On Wear OS, say “OK, Google” to pull up the Assistant. You can then ask it a variety of questions or tell it to do many different things.

Wear OS supports voice control options that function as smartwatch shortcuts. Tasks you can do with voice commands include sending and replying to text messages, setting reminders, and controlling home automation devices.

5. Health Features

Wear OS allows you to track basic fitness information, like heart rate, calories burned, and steps taken. All thanks to Google Fit.

Google Fit is the default health app for Wear OS, and it comes pre-installed on your smartwatch. If you don’t see it on your watch, visit Google Play Store and download it.

Related: Google Fit Not Counting Steps on Your Android Phone? Top Tips to Fix It

Wear OS watches provide guided breathing activities via Google Fit to help you relax at any time of day. With Google Fit, you can also connect with other fitness apps like MyFitnessPal, Strava, and Runkeeper.

The Apple Watch has many of the same health functions as Wear OS. For example, watchOS and Samsung’s Wear OS include GPS sensors and heart rate monitors. And, both can track your blood oxygen levels via SpO2.

The Apple Watch’s Workout app lets you track and log exercises like running, walking, and cycling as well as measure real-time data while exercising. The watch also supports programs like the subscription-based workout platform Apple Fitness+ and life-saving features like Fall Detection.

Which Smartwatch OS Is Best for You?

Both smartwatch operating systems are still pretty similar. They keep you connected to your phone and allow you to access apps, notifications, music playback controls, text messages, calls…you name it! As such, the smartwatch you choose is determined by the smartphone you already have and the features you find most important.

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Denis is a tech writer at MakeUseOf. He especially enjoys writing about Android and has an obvious passion for Windows. His mission is to make your mobile devices and software easier to use. Denis is a former loan officer who loves dancing!

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