Will a Freely Distributed OS for Smartwatches Succeed?

It seems that crowdfunded smartwatches have become popular again, with Vachen and AGENT Smartwatch starting their Kickstarter campaigns and followed by Boddie and Emopulse closely behind. With all the choices in smartwatches today, we the consumer, are spoiled for choice. You have a large variety of features, os’s and watch designs. Just how do we pick the one we want? Perhaps one of them has features you think are actually important to you but you hate the design or vice versa. Will there be ways to have our cake and eat it?

Perhaps we can learn a little from what watchmakers have already been doing for years. Companies like Tag Heuer, Seiko, Swatch and many others produce a good variety of wristwatch models every year. On the surface, they will have absolutely nothing in keeping, some have a stainless casing, other are covered in Swarovski crystals, some show the date, others barely have any numbers on them. Looking at night surface reveals similar as well as identical clock movements that power these watches. As these movements are make up a complex and intricate network of springs, counterweights and gears, one can understand that watchmakers would want to use a design so long as possible. It would simply take too long to design a fresh movement for every new design of a wrist watch.

Hence, the use of modules in watch design is important to getting models off the designing table to the manufacturing floor as fast as possible. The fewer movements had a need to cater to a large range of watches the better it is for the watchmakers.

In a way, this is what Google has done with Android in addition to. Google has created a usable and flexible operating-system that smart phone makers may take, tweak and ship with their hardware. By developing a base OS that can be dispatched to handsets that hold vastly different hardware, Google has had the opportunity to make sure that Android-powered handsets now outnumber the wildly popular Iphone. Now, you will get an Android smart phone in a number of models with different technical specifications and prices you can pick and choose which hardware suits you best, knowing that the software experience will undoubtedly be mainly similar.

For mysmartwatch.se , it has not been the case. For every smartwatch out there, you will find a proprietary operating system that powers it. Which means that the user experience is vastly different for every smartwatch model. It also means that the makers of the smartwatches have to split their efforts and resources into two parts, watch design and OS development. While app development can sometimes be “outsourced” to third party developers, the program development kit (SDK) has to be created and this takes time and resources as well.

The various smartwatch makers have taken different approaches to handle this. For starters, Pebble has put a lot of effort in to the creation of its SDK and has garnered a decent developer community so far and have also partnered popular big-name app developers like the RunKeeper. However, Pebble doesn’t look all that classy, it might are a sports watch or could be worn with casual wear, but it doesn’t really have the appearance to match office wear. Imagine if more was done on the design side of things? Would the software side took a productivity hit? What if they used a pre-made smartwatch OS?

The Agent smartwatch alternatively is trying to juggle both equally well as well. Secret Labs, the creator of the Agent knows electronics and software perfectly, but are no experts in watch design. So they partnered with House of Horology, which creates really nice timepieces. Together, they desire to manage to tackle the electronics and the look areas of the smartwatch together. This is definitely commendable and an excellent strategy, but would this mean delays in the production cycle since it takes time to tweak the operating system and functionality. Secret Labs did however utilize the Microsoft.NET Micro Framework as a base because of its operating system. Is this the start to using a distributed OS for smartwatches?

What we need is one of many established software companies to spearhead this. A little time player might not cut it because few will utilize an OS that may not be around if the business goes under. The OS should be produced by Google, Apple or Microsoft, in order to give weight to the program. It will provide trust to developers that the OS will undoubtedly be supported for years ahead. These companies can utilize their expertise in software development to generate an OS which will be in a position to perform under different hardware conditions, maximize battery life while providing usability and functionality, all at exactly the same time looking great on the watch face.