Image source: Samsung

The great divide: Why Samsung Galaxy Watches and iOS don’t mix

Samsung unveiled its new Galaxy Watch 6 series yesterday. The enthusiasm, however, was short-lived for iPhone users. The reason? The latest Galaxy Watches do not play nice with iOS devices. This continues a trend that began with the Galaxy Watch 4 in 2021.

The cause of the rift

The reason for this incompatibility is Samsung’s switch from Tizen to Google’s Wear OS. While some other manufacturers have made their Wear OS watches iOS compatible, Samsung has taken a different approach.

Junho Park, Director of Global Product Planning at Samsung, explained the rationale in a conversation with TechRadar. He mentioned that the company’s mission is to give the finest client experience possible. They discovered, however, that the limits encountered when utilising a Galaxy Watch with iOS were caused by Apple’s ecosystem rather than the watch itself.

The Galaxy Watch Series 6 series is no exception, as it suffers from the same constraints. It is powered by Google’s new Wear OS 4 and Samsung’s One UI 5 on top of it. As far as hardware, we did not receive many upgrades this year. The most significant improvements are a little larger display and the return of the physical bezel on Galaxy Watch 6 Classic. The remainder are rather modest upgrades.

The influence of ecosystems

Apple’s ecosystem is noted for its end-to-end control and seamless interaction. This means that, while using a Samsung Galaxy Watch with an iPhone is technically possible, the experience is far from optimal. And there lies the problem.

Samsung, on the other hand, has built its Galaxy Watches to operate best with its own ecosystem, including the Samsung Health app. Some Galaxy Watch capabilities, such as utilising it as a viewfinder for the phone’s camera, are only available when it is paired with a Samsung phone. So there will be some limitations even if you opt for another brand’s Android phone.

The compatibility of the future

This tendency of designing gadgets that perform best within their own ecosystems appears to be the way forward for technology companies that make both phones and wearables. It represents a change from the past, when devices and software were system-independent.

While this may appear to be restricting, it does make sense in certain ways. A watch that is particularly built to pair with your phone, combined with software that ensures an excellent experience, appears to be a natural linkup. Other options for individuals who prioritise cross-compatibility include Fitbit and Garmin, which operate with pretty much any phone.

Finally, Samsung’s decision to discontinue iOS support for Galaxy Watches appears to be a strategic move. It’s an attempt to deliver the best user experience possible, even if it means restricting compatibility. It remains to be seen whether this will change in the future. iPhone owners searching for a smartwatch will have to look elsewhere for the time being.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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