Google betting its Assistant can close the wearables gap with Apple
New Assistant capabilities announced for Wear OS ahead of Google's developer conference next week
Right now, Apple is winning the battle of the smartwatch vs. Google. Google is betting that the Assistant can close the gap.
Android-based smartwatches historically have offered a weaker user experience than Apple Watch, though their third-party ecosystem of designs offers a wider variety of styles and prices. In 2015, Google made then Android Wear, now Wear OS, (mostly) compatible with iPhones.
Last year, the Google Assistant came to Android smartwatches, which gives them a fighting chance against the Apple Watch. Now, ahead of Google I/O next week, the company announced it’s adding some new features to the Assistant for Wear OS:
- Smart suggestions offering contextual expansion of queries. The example Google provides is: Ask about the weather and get a suggestion about the extended forecast.
- Hear answers read back via the watch speaker or Bluetooth headphones.
- Availability of Actions on all Wear OS watches. This is consistent with the Google Assistant’s increasingly transactional focus.
These capabilities will become available “over the next several days.” However, I’m sure we’ll hear more Wear OS announcements next week.
On its earnings call earlier this week, Apple said that its wearables business (i.e., Apple Watch, Beats and AirPods) saw combined revenue growth of 50 percent year over year. Specifically, the company said that Apple Watch grew “by strong double digits year-over-year to a new March quarter record.”
Apple Watch revenue lives in the “other products” category, which saw quarterly revenues of nearly $4 billion.