Wear OS is struggling — big time. It is no secret that Google’s wearable OS has been through a lot of changes in recent years and even with all those changes they are yet to finalise on a fluent, usable OS. Now developers are beginning to question why they are even bothering to support Wear OS with Runkeeper the first big name to pull the pin.
Runkeeper is a fitness tracking app that tracks runs, walks, jogs, biking and many other activities using the GPS of your smartwatch/phone. It helps the user to create and achieve goals while providing support and encouragement through its social engagement within the app with other users.
Runkeeper emailed users yesterday informing them that in the next version of their app they will be removing the Wear OS component and instead all tracking etc will need to be done with the phone. If you are like me your phones are massive and running with them on you is certainly not ideal and you can be sure that attempting to track your exercise by memory after the fact is incredibly difficult and most likely inaccurate making this removal a non-starter for many Android users.
The email can be seen below:
Because you use the ASICS Runkeeper™ app on a Wear OS by Google device, we’re writing to share some important news. As of app version 9.13 (coming your way in the next few weeks), the Runkeeper app will no longer be available on Wear OS by Google devices.
We know this is disappointing, and we’re sorry to have to make this change. Our team has been hard at work building innovative and high-impact training tools designed to keep Runkeeper users moving. We want to provide the best tracking experience possible to everyone who uses the Runkeeper app, and we’re just not able to offer it on Wear OS by Google at this time.
We are truly sorry for any trouble this change may cause in your experience using the Runkeeper app, and hope that you will continue to enjoy the app as usual on your Android phone. Feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
The Runkeeper team
Of course many users were irate and one Redditor emailed Runkeeper support and received the following statement (the emphasis is Ausdroid’s not Runkeepers):
We decided to cease support for Android Wear because the integration didn’t work well/work consistently for most users. It was a very buggy experience and difficult for us to maintain and fix. Additionally, a very small portion of the Runkeeper community actually used it.
Because we’re a small team with limited resources, and having done our research, we ultimately concluded that trying to maintain a partnership that wasn’t working well would not be good practice for us. We hope you can understand.
As one Redditor said the entire event is “pretty solid evidence of the current poor state of Wear OS”. It also makes you wonder just how much support Google is offering to developers of Wear OS apps, especially considering their own Nest app dropped Wear OS support recently.
We all thought that Google was going to try to take Apple head on in the wearables market, especially the fitness and health component but when companies such as these decide they do not have the time to fix a buggy experience that is Wear OS it seems the future looks fairly grim for Wear OS.
If there was a good time for a Pixel Watch it is now. The ecosystem needs Google to invest more time and effort into developing it. It needs hardware companies such as Qualcomm to also do the same and considering Qualcomm have barely changed the wearable chipset from the very first one released they should also be held accountable for the failings of Wear SO.
Please Google, bring me a Pixel Watch with a much improved Wear OS experience before even more developers desert the ecosystem.