Google’s much-anticipated hardware unveiling yesterday included the Pixel 2, some new Google Homes, and more. One thing notably absent was any mention of Android Wear. The Google Store got a visual refresh as all the new product pages went up, and that refresh apparently included the complete removal of the Android Wear section. It’s quite telling that no one noticed right away. Imagine if Apple updated its website and stopped selling the Apple Watch.
The Google Store used to have a whole section for Android Wear with devices from various manufacturers like Fossil and LG. Prior to the removal of this section, Google was selling a pair of LG watches, the Watch Sport and the Watch Style. These were the launch devices for Android Wear 2.0 in early 2017. Now, about eight months later, those watches are discontinued. If you check the direct product page links, neither one is available for sale.
Android Wear has been largely stagnant since the release of v2.0 early this year. Google hasn’t discussed new features for that version since launch. Wear 2.0 added features like a keyboard and an on-device Play Store client for apps. It also made notifications much more awkward to manage and disconnected the do-not-disturb setting on the watch from your phone. Those are both negative changes in my opinion as a long-time Android Wear user.
Clearly, Android Wear needs some work, but it wasn’t even clear Google was still working on Android Wear development until it quietly launched a developer preview of the Oreo update last week. Unfortunately, the preview will take many months to launch on any watches, and there are no significant changes.
The current Google Store with no wearables.
This comes at a time when many electronics companies are pulling back from Android Wear. Motorola said last year that it had no plans to release a new smartwatch, and Asus is also reportedly done with smartwatches. Meanwhile, most of the current Android Wear devices you can buy come from traditional watchmakers like Fossil and Movado.
In the past, Google has worked with hardware partners to ensure there are watches available that support all of Android Wear’s latest features. However, there’s no indication any new Google-blessed watches are in the works. Who would make them anyway? Most of its major partners are wary of launching new wearables, especially with new players like Fitbit entering the market. Google just seems determined to run Wear into the ground.