Montblanc Summit 3 Wear OS 3 hands on16

Wear OS 3 hands-on: Google’s free-market wearable future

Montblanc invited me to see their new (and very expensive) Wear a smartwatch running OS 3. I didn’t spend much time with it, and you can anticipate a more extensive review of both the software and this watch later, but the shorthand is that Wear OS 3 isn’t a panacea for Android laptop problems. If anything, it seems that Google is shifting more of its responsibility on manufacturers to fix the situation, and I’m not sure that’s wise.

The ultra-premium Montblanc Summit 3

As a device-specific experience, I must reiterate what the Montblanc Summit 3 is, and it is not a smartwatch that most of our readers are interested in, mainly due to its ultra-premium price of $1,290. I know it looks dazzling, but this is no “normal” smartwatch. Montblanc is positioning it against higher-end versions of the Apple Watch with features like a solid sapphire crystal, titanium body, and other ultra-luxurious and durable design decisions.

One aspect of the watch that isn’t quite as premium is the chipset, which uses the older Wear 4100+. While we all look forward to Wear OS 3 on top of the new W5+ Gen1 and the various devices that will use that combo, this is objectively a more dated experience.

The Summit 3 rounds out its spec sheet with a mid-sized 400mAh battery that we’re told should last a day or two on a charge, depending on usage, and recharges in about an hour. 1GB of RAM is not unusual for a portable device, and neither is 8GB of storage. 5 ATM water resistance means it should survive a splash, and the 1.28-inch OLED screen is pretty standard. It can measure heart rate, sleep, and blood oxygen level, and can also track eight different types of exercise: cycling (outdoor and indoor), running, treadmill, HIIT, yoga, hiking, and ” others”, with more on the way. Montblanc claims it didn’t include activities like swimming because other apps in the store can fill that gap. That may seem like a small thing, but with other software changes, it’s important, and I’ll discuss it in more detail later.

As a more premium product, Montblanc offers some additional service benefits. If your battery starts to die prematurely while under warranty, it will be replaced, and even if it’s out of warranty, it can be replaced for a cost (about $100, we’re told). Damage to the body of titanium or stainless steel parts can also be repaired, but damage to the sapphire crystal cannot be repaired.

Montblanc isn’t entirely in charge of software support – Google and Qualcomm play a role there too – but the company says it will do its best to offer new features and watch faces over time, noting that many of its older Wear OS Tech-based wearables are still getting some changes.

Use operating system 3

Before I discuss the important details of the software, I must stress that I already have a lot of feelings about Wear OS 3. Between Samsung’s initial exclusivity, the old news about supported platforms, and the almost endless wait for real devices to run the version that doesn’t It’s from Samsung. to land, I am frustrated with the situation. Now that we’ve learned more about how it has objectively changed the future of the platform, I’m not sure Google has the right plans in place to ensure success. Like it or hate it, Wear OS 3 is leaning even more toward a platform-before-product ideology.

The overall Wear OS 3 software experience on the Montblanc Summit 3 will be familiar to you if you’ve worn an older Wear OS 2 watch or one of the newer Galaxy watches. I can’t give you a full tour (our time was too short), but the general vibe is the same.

It has a clock face home screen with the tile based paradigm. Swipe from the edges to navigate. A swipe from the left on the majority places is back unless you’re on the side-scrolling home screen flat type, where the functionality changes. It’s the same consistently inconsistent experience Wear OS has had in the past.

It has Play Store and you can install apps made for Wear OS. The animations are subtly different, with nested menus having a more subtle zoom effect as you navigate back, shrinking to eternity as you swipe through. This isn’t a substantial redesign or entirely new way to interact with Wear OS, and most of the visual changes are window dressing, like the curved clock you’ll notice at the top of the screen most of the time, and the gradient backgrounds. . on things like buttons.

I didn’t have a Wear OS 2 device on hand to directly compare the Summit 3 (our hands-on was fixed at the last minute), and I’ll admit it’s been a few months since I’ve touched an older device. Still, only a few things stood out as substantive changes to me, like the new recent menu that lists recently accessed apps, and a much more extensive quick settings menu, which has a lot more options than I remember it having. any of my older Wear OS devices.

Like everywhere else, Google Wallet replaces Google Pay in Wear OS 3.0, and tiles (the widgets you can scroll between) have been updated to let developers do more fun things with them, courtesy of new APIs.

Fast Pair is one of the most significant changes that we can expect and that I did not have the opportunity to try. Setting up a Wear OS watch has always been, forever It’s been a frustrating and unpleasant process, but the actual Bluetooth pairing part of that equation is going to get simpler because just having a Wear OS 3 device near your phone should get it to connect. Think of it as something similar to Fast Pair for things like headphones.

Although the Summit 3 uses an older Snapdragon Wear 4100+ chipset, I didn’t notice any issues with things like stuttering or frame drops. Performance was smooth on all the devices I played on. One device was in demo mode and the other was our presenter’s personal device that he had used for some time. This was a structured experience with limited usage time, but using the watch didn’t feel as complicated as I’m used to on other Wear OS devices, and that’s worth noting: maybe Wear OS 3 itself is a little smoother.

What does bother me about the future of Wear OS is one near-dismissible detail Montblanc mentioned: they’re using their own companion app. I thought it was cool, but remembered that it was something Fossil was also working on and that the Pixel Watch was also rumored to have its own app. When asked to expand on that, a representative told us that it was a requirement imposed by Google. All Wear OS 3 devices to have have its own companion app.

Let the market fix the problem of Android wearable devices

After the briefing, I double-checked and Fossil had explained it to me last month, but the magnitude of that impact had gone unnoticed. Every company that wants to make a Wear OS smartwatch has to make an app now, which means the cross-device experience is now on the shoulders of every company that makes one of those watches. Remember the lack of fitness tracking in the Montblanc app I mentioned and the limited number of exercises it could track? That is one impact of this decision. In the face of Apple’s utter and terrifying cross-platform dominance, bringing even more cross-device quality of experience to third parties seems like a solution. incredibly myopic plan.

Montblanc explained that the companion app didn’t even have fitness integration yet, and the company had to create features for things like its own training modes independently; that’s why there are only eight types of supported workouts to start with. The company pointed out that you can use other apps from the Play Store to fill the gap, and while that’s an excuse, it’s not actually from Montblanc; it’s from google.

Because Wear OS 3 isn’t centralized in the Google-controlled Wear OS app, the experience is about to fracture (fragmentedsome might say), with different manufacturers differing not only in hardware but also in software and feature sets. On the one hand, I see some arguing that this opens the door for others to come up with novel solutions and improvements beyond what Google can design. It’s a common argument for all platforms struggling without the so-called killer app, “let the developers figure it out!” But this isn’t a new or cutting-edge product category, just one where competitors are already winning, and I’m not sure throwing an entire generation of products at the whims of the developer free market and any way they can think of to plug these new gaps is very wise at this stage.

I hope I’m wrong in my negativity here after the years of abuse Wear OS fans have suffered. Wear OS 3 feels like Google is slipping back into its all-too-often hands-off approach, acting like it’s above the responsibility of steering the market even as it imposes arbitrary requirements and takes a piece of it. You can’t have your cake and eat it too; there is a duty here that Google is not fulfilling. This laissez-faire approach may have worked for Android, but I think it was a different time and market. Wearables aren’t phones, and Wear OS isn’t Android, even if it’s based on it. Shifting responsibility here to manufacturers feels short-sighted, and only further highlights the advantages of Apple’s more tightly controlled approach at this late stage of the portable game.

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