Types Of Smartwatch Operating Systems [Compared]

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Are you wondering about the different types of smartwatch operating systems? Were you searching for a smartwatch and came across different operating systems and now you cannot decide which operating system you should choose?

In this article, I will tell you about different operating systems that the smartwatches from popular brands like Fossil, Samsung, Apple, Garmin, Fitbit, Huawei, etc. run on. Therefore you can make an informed decision and choose the right smartwatch for yourself.

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What Is An Operating System?

Before we dive into the smartwatch OS list, don’t you wanna know what exactly an operating system is and why it is important?

Like we do not understand the language of animals, similarly, the computer or a smartwatch or a cell phone does not understand our language. And neither do we understand their language, which is 0s and 1s. But still, we can communicate with our smartphones and smartwatches easily. How is it possible? The answer is an Operating System. An operating system is a software that acts as a kind of a bridge between the smartwatch and the humans. It communicates our commands to the hardware of the smartwatch in the language that it understands and then communicates back the smartwatch’s response to us in a language that we understand.

With the help of the operating system, a smartwatch is able to utilize the hardware efficiently and makes the smartwatch do what we want it to do. Therefore it becomes very critical that a smartwatch has a good OS. A smartwatch can have top-notch hardware but if the OS does not know how to use that hardware to its fullest then the hardware is of no use. It is because of the combination of hardware and software that a smartwatch is able to do so much these days.

Smartwatch OS List

Now that we know what the operating system actually does, let us look at the different OS that you can find on different smartwatches these days.

1) watchOS

watchOS

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watchOS is produced by Apple and runs on all Apple smartwatches. It is written in C and C++ computer language and is a closed operating system that has open-source components. watchOS has the maximum market share among all the smartwatch operating systems in the market. Unlike other operating systems, this OS does not let you connect to smartphones other than iOS devices.

watchOS has various built-in apps and also lets you download various other third-party apps. There is an inbuilt voice assistant in the OS called Siri that lets you control the watch through your voice.

If you own an Android smartphone then you should think twice before buying a watch that runs on the watchOS. But if you own an iPhone then you will not get a better fit than the watch with watchOS.

Apple Watch Series 7 is the latest and best smartphone that is running on the watchOS nowadays.

2) Wear OS

Smartwatch operating system

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Wear OS is produced by Google and can be found on smartwatches from some reputed brands like Skagen, Samsung, Fossil, Michael Kors, Citizen, Casio, etc. Like Andriod, it is also based on Linux and is an open-source operating system with closed-source components. Wear OS has the second largest market share among all the smartwatch operating systems in the world and earlier it was known as Android Wear.

Unlike watchOS, Wear OS lets you connect your smartwatch to Android as well as iPhone. However, the functionalities get limited when connected to an iOS device. It comes with various pre-installed apps and also lets you download various other third-party apps. Google Voice Assistant comes enabled in the Wear OS, therefore you can control your smartwatch through your voice.

If you own an Android smartphone then buying a watch that runs on Wear OS will be the best option for you. However, if you own an iPhone then watchOS is the best option for you.

You can check out some of the best watches that come with Wear OS here.

3) Zepp OS

Zepp OS

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Zepp OS is the proprietary operating system of Amazfit and all the Amazfit watches run on this OS. Amazfit is quite a new entrant in the smartwatch market but has taken the market by storm. And its Zepp OS is now the third-largest market shareholder among all the smartwatch Operating systems.

It is based on Linux and lets you connect your watch to both Android and iOS devices. But when connected to iPhone you will not be able to do certain things like you cannot reply to text messages. Other than that everything works buttery smooth with iPhone as well. It comes pre-installed with some important apps but it does not let you download any other third-party apps. This OS comes enabled with an Alexa voice assistant so you can use your voice for controlling your smartwatch.

If you own an Android smartphone then this could be a good option for you. And if you own an iPhone and can compromise on some functionality then also you can opt for watches with Zepp OS.

4) Fitbit OS

Fitbit Operating System

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Fitbit is a well-known brand when it comes to smartwatches. Fitbit has produced its own OS for all of its smartwatches. It has a considerable market share and comes after the Zepp OS in terms of market share.

There are various pre-installed apps on the operating system and you can download other apps as well from the Garmin app store which is called Gallery. And it lets you connect your smartwatch to Android and iPhone. However, due to the limited functionality of iOS connectivity, you will not be able to use some of the smartwatch’s features.

The functionality of the OS is focused more on fitness tracking so if you want a watch that you will be using mainly for fitness and health tracking then a watch with Fitbit OS makes more sense to buy.

5) Lite OS

Lite Operating System

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Lite OS is developed by Huawei and is used in all Huawei smartwatches. It is an open-source operating system and is based on Linux. Lite OS has become quite popular and comes next in line to Fitbit OS when it comes to market share worldwide.

It does not let you download third-party apps but comes loaded with various apps. Smartwatches with this operating system let you connect to both iPhone and Android smartphones. But some functions like replying to text messages will not work with iPhones. Because of the limited apps and functionality, this OS is very lightweight and hence runs smoothly. It can be a good choice if you own an Android smartphone but if you own an iPhone then you will have to compromise on a few of its features.

6) Garmin OS

Garmin OS

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Garmin OS is used on all of the Garmin watches and is developed by Garmin itself. It has a considerable market share and is very intuitive and easy to use. There are pre-installed apps in the operating system and you can also download third-party apps for additional functionality. Few features like replying to text will not be available when connected to iPhone but you can connect it to both Android and iPhone.

The main focus of this operating system is to utilize every inch of various fitness sensors. Therefore if you want a watch that can track your body fitness extensively then a smartwatch with Garmin operating system will make more sense.

7) Tizen OS

Tizen OS

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This is the proprietary operating system of Samsung and can be found on many Samsung smartphones and older Samsung smartwatches. However, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 which is the latest and smartest watch from Samsung runs on Google’s Wear OS.

Tizen operating system is based on Linux and is open-source. When market share is considered, it has a considerable amount of it. It comes loaded with various applications and you can also download other apps from the Samsung app store as well. The user interface of this operating system is very intuitive and easy to easy. You can connect the watches with Tizen OS to Android and iPhone as well.

Whether you own an Android smartphone or an iPhone you can go for watches with Tizen OS. However, do keep in mind that iOS has limited functionality when connected to devices other than IOS.

Which Smartwatch Operating System Is Better?

Every smartwatch operating system is better in itself. Some operating systems are more focused on fitness tracking while others offer a more holistic experience. Wear OS is getting quite popular these days among Android users and more smartwatch companies are switching to it. However, if you have an iPhone then choosing the watchOS will make more sense. But if you want to own a smartwatch from a particular company then you really do not have much choice, you will have to settle what the company offers. That said, no operating system is bad in the user interface or functioning and you will not be disappointed if you choose any.

FAQs

What Is The Operating System Of A Smartwatch?

An operating system is a software that acts as a kind of a bridge between the smartwatch and the humans. It communicates our commands to the hardware of the smartwatches in the language that it understands and then communicates back the smartwatch’s response to us in a language that we understand.

Do Smartwatches Have OS?

Yes, smartwatches do have an operating system.

Can I Change The OS Of My Smartwatch?

No, You cannot change the OS of your smartwatch.

What Operating System Do Garmin Smartwatches Use?

Garmin Smartwatches use the in-built operating system by Garmin itself, it is named Garmin OS.

Do Garmin Watches Use Wear OS?

No, Garmin smartwatches use the in-house-built Garmin OS.

Tom Nielson

Tom's love for watches started when his grandfather gifted him his Rolex watch when he turned 18! Being a teenager it was a big deal for him. Later when he got his first job he bought Fossil Palm Pilot back in 2003 which was a smartwatch. Since then smartwatches have come a long way and so is Tom's love for them. His experience with watches inspired him to start Wearholic and share his knowledge of wearables including watches, smartwatches, smart glasses, & smart clothing.

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