Samsung Unpacked 2021 offers a coveted hodgepodge of cutting-edge devices, from Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 to Galaxy Watch 4. But in addition to the most cutting-edge hardware display, this conference also emphasized the importance of software in promoting product differentiation and supports the very important new user experiences that Samsung is eager to attract our attention.
Aside from marketing rants, Samsung has clearly invested a lot of work in software development in order to bring its latest products to the market. For example, the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic are the company’s first Wear OS smart watches to abandon Samsung’s internal Tizen operating system for Wear OS 3 designed in collaboration with Google. Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 look like the company’s best foldable products to date, and it’s because of the improved integration of hardware and software features that make things as easy as moving apps between displays .
read more: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 impressions
However, what shocked me the most about Unpacked was that Samsung was fighting hard with Android almost alone to make these innovative products a reality.
Drag Wear OS into the modern era
Eric Zeman/Android Authority
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (left) with Galaxy Watch 4
There is no doubt that Wear OS has gone through some very difficult times under the leadership of Google. Even after years of development, the user experience is still imperfect, not perfect, and lacks the key features found by the ecosystem’s biggest competitor, Apple Watch. Poor battery life, questionable user interface, and lack of flagship products and updates also do not help sell to consumers in the ecosystem. It is not surprising that many manufacturers, including Samsung, are turning to other operating systems to build wearable devices. Android Authority It is said that the previous generation Galaxy Watch 3 is the most suitable smart watch for Android users, although you can find third-party support in the Wear OS and Apple Watch ecosystem.
Wear OS 3 is designed to solve the long-term operating problems of the platform. This is Samsung’s arguably the dream team between the industry-leading watch user interface, Google’s extensive application ecosystem and Fitbit’s first-class fitness capabilities. In short, this may ultimately provide customers with an Android watch ecosystem that provides everything they want. Nevertheless, we will retain our judgment until we spend more time on the Galaxy Watch 4. Not to mention the long-term success of the platform will depend on Google’s alignment for future improvements and updates.
Further reading: The best Wear OS watch | The best Wear OS app
Of course, this begs the question as to why it took Google seven years to allow its partners to customize the appearance of Wear OS and solve long-standing issues such as battery life and application performance. Wear OS is often thought of as an afterthought by Google, and it may hope that it will never participate in the nuisance. Therefore, Samsung has innovated in the field of wearable devices without the developer community attached to Google’s application ecosystem. However, if Google invested heavily in Wear OS development years ago, the journey would have been much smoother.
Android needs to organize exciting new devices
Eric Zeman/Android Authority
It’s hard not to compare Samsung’s smart watch journey with its foldable smartphone journey. Samsung’s Flip and Fold products innovate before the mainstream Android market, and again put in additional software work. Software such as Multi-View, seamless immersive view and multitasking enables users to take full advantage of the additional screen space of Z Fold 3. But in fact, these are the necessary functions to bring the foldable phone from the traditional phone into its own product category. Even so, Samsung is still limited by the content that its own apps and third-party developers can provide with apps that explicitly support these devices.
indeed, Android 10 introduced support Used for resizable application windows, hinge aspects and improved multi-windows, suitable for three or more applications specifically suited for these new products. Google has undoubtedly made Android more friendly to devices with strange screen layouts, and even improved its own applications, such as YouTube and Google Duo, to use multiple displays. But even here, Samsung is driving The development direction of Android.
For a long time, Google has been happy that its partners can lead the way with features that will eventually be incorporated into Android.
Under Google’s management, the mobile operating system has not had any key foldable improvements since then. Android 12 focuses on redesigning the UI, supporting notifications, and adding new privacy features. There are almost no cutting-edge things.
However, this is not entirely surprising. For a long time, Google has been content to let partners lead the way and integrate successful functions into Android in the future. However, for market segments with revolutionary and potentially breakthrough products, taking a wait and see approach is a more risky strategy.
Samsung’s foldable products can not only adjust the size of applications and stack applications, but also provide the smooth experience that advanced consumers expect. For example, Samsung’s edge panel taskbar bridges the productivity gap between smartphones and tablets, while Flex mode takes advantage of the newer aesthetics of the Galaxy Z Flip. These are the key features of Samsung’s foldable products from concept to mature equipment. Not to mention its proprietary messaging, cameras and other applications designed to maximize screen space.
The Android operating system may support basic functions and provide developers with some new tools for developers to use, but it is custom software that enriches these products and makes them really work. Sadly, Android’s core support for foldable devices has not broken the limit, repeating the strategy that failed to inspire Android tablets and wearable devices until recently.
Google can’t lead from behind
Eric Zeman/Android Authority
Of course, Samsung is not the only company that makes foldable smartphones. We also like the Huawei Mate XS experience very much, although the lack of Google apps is still an obvious warning. Although multiple companies dedicated to their own proprietary ideas may produce some good personal products, it will not lead to the diverse and competitive ecosystem that we currently enjoy on Android smartphones. This will only happen when Google takes the lead in gaming and is playing an active role in integrating cutting-edge foldable features into its operating system. In addition to existing developer tools, it is also possible to build foldable-aware applications.
This is very important because if we want third-party applications to run seamlessly between products of multiple brands, they need to support a common feature set. Not to mention that there are rumors that Apple is developing its own foldable iPhone. Apple will not enter this product field with half-hanging software, and the wait-and-see approach may make the Android foldable ecosystem lose its hard-won lead.
Android’s core support for foldable devices has not broken the limit, repeating the strategy that failed to inspire tablets and wearable devices.
The sooner Google integrates more core flexible and foldable software features and tools into Android, the more likely it is that foldable phones will take off in a way that makes sense to mainstream consumers. The rumored Google Pixel Fold indicates that the company may be about to incorporate product market segments into its banner. Although based on the company’s history in tablets, TVs, and wearables, I didn’t hold my breath, thinking that Google will lead. Unless a company like Samsung can do its work again, but before that, Samsung and other companies are fighting an uphill battle for innovation.