Wearables Week in Review

Report Type: 
Week In Review

Cue the music

Wear OS users can finally use the YouTube Music app to stream their music on their smartwatch. The announcement comes roughly two years after Google announced the end of its Google Play Music app, which was the only native music streaming app for Wear OS. Subsequent to that, last year, Google did launch a YouTube Music app for Wear OS but it was limited to offline music playback only.

The NPD Take:

  • This is a significant – and much needed – enhancement for Wear OS. As demand for cellular-enabled smartwatches continues, the lack of a native streaming music player was not only a major oversight for Wear OS, but an outright negative for consumers weighing up the pros and cons of Apple versus Google ecosystems.
  • And not just an omission in terms of music: the lack of a streaming music app, frankly, showed a lack of competitiveness for Wear OS overall. Now, the enhancement suggests that Google is “back” in wearables and serious about the space perhaps.

Augmenting the future

According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple showed a mixed reality headset (supporting both augmented and virtual reality) to its board of directors last week and that the company is apparently hard at work developing the device’s operating system. This has, of course, fed into the rumor mill that perhaps – just perhaps – we will see an announcement at Apple’s WWDC next month. There again, according to a story by The Information Apple board members saw a range of prototype AR  devices in 2016 too.

The NPD Take:

  • We believe it is highly unlikely any new headset will get a mention at WWDC next month. Apple does not typically hint at future products, or show any half-finished “prototypes”. However, we are seeing significant movement in the AR/VR mixed reality space (Meta, Google, Snapchat and more) and while Apple is rarely at the bleeding edge of innovation, it is never too far behind with a refined solution. Our take: expect 2023 or even 2024 for a potential launch.
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