Where is the FAW market going?

Just interested to hear peoples’ thoughts on where the market for full Android watches is going. I’ve only been aware of them and following this site for about 6 months but it doesn’t seem like there’s much momentum nor any innovation beyond updating to a version of Android that is 2 generations behind mainstream phones.

The way that the market has developed confuses me. On the one hand, we have full Android, a fully-fledged, standalone OS capable of some serious computing; on the other, we have a nearly universal form factor (round face) that is not particularly conducive to using the abilities of the OS. Most people interested in a FAW are looking to replace a mainstream phone, at least some of the time, but phone apps are far from optimal for round screens and are not being optimised for the application. Currently, it doesn’t seem that the FAW market knows whether it wants to be tech-focussed or fashion-focussed and, as a consequence, isn’t doing either particularly well.

Then there is a community, or communities, crying out for a device that can replace their handheld device for very specific applications. In my case (I have type-1 diabetes) it’s to run specialised Android apps that monitor my blood sugar and administer insulin via a pump to try to maintain my blood sugar within an acceptable window. For this, I need to be connected to 2 devices via Bluetooth 24/7 and to the cloud via either cellular data or wifi. That takes its toll on the battery and I can’t afors to be tied to a charger several times a day, so a big battery or very efficient hardware/OS is critical; so is a screen that can display the data, including trend graphs, and can give access to all onscreen buttons for my apps, so it needs to be square or rectangular.and probably at least 1.5 inches across (say, 2" diagonal) but not a big brick. Finally, it has to be reliable (so, fairly high quality) because it’s keeping me alive. Currently, I use a small Chinese handheld (cost about $AU150/$US100) that is not particularly high quality but, it appears, still higher quality than the FAWs currently on the market. People have been running these to do what I am doing for years without them failing, yet I regularly read about FAWs dying after only a few months. My handheld is great but I have to get it out of my pocket to check on my system everynow and then and it gets left behind on the desk or in the car and loses connection with my devices so I am just attached to a dumb pump. I’ve done it at least twice today by lunch time… That’s the allure fo the FAW, even when I have to check on my system, it remains attached to me. There are many, some on this forum, who are likewise interested in such a use case and actively looking into the options. There is a much bigger community of people with diabetes who have closed loop systems - probably thousands - who would move to a FAW if there was a suitable option…

What the FAW market needs is for Samsung and/or one of the other big players in the Android device game to come in and raise the quality level and for the makers to take note that, as Apple has demonstrated, people will happily wear a sguare or rectangular watch. Without this sort of intervention by a big manufacturer, I think that the FAW market will remain a niche, hobby-based market and will probably splutter out in a couple of years’ time.

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I’d like know that as well. So there hasn’t been much action except Kospet making 2 new watches not FA, M2 and T2, they seem to have nice specs. But no FAW A11 from Kospet!

So I was hoping to see the new Ticwatch 4, or even the OS3 UPDATE neither have come out yet. Yeah I know that isn’t for this site either.

The simple reality is that Android watches are getting very expensive to manufacture due to the older technology needed to produce the older chipsets. Everything is going nano extremely fast and the cost of keeping older fabrication methods to produce the older SOCs is becoming difficult for big manufacturers like MTK and even Unisoc to justify.
This why so many big tech firms like Google, Apple and Samsung have gone their own way for SOCs.
The people involved in making our FAWs do not have this opportunity.

If you add to this the fact that sales of full android watches have plummeted over the last 18 - 24 months and you can see why companies are reluctant to take the risk in investing in new models that will only sell a few hundred at most.

To make it worthwhile they have to commit to manufacturing thousands, investing huge amounts of money up front.
The Optimus 2 is a good example.
An expensive watch to fabricate and over all a pretty awesome product.
However, sales were a disaster and almost bankrupted the parties involved. We only see the tip of the iceberg. For the brands it is vital that they sell a few thousand pieces to keep it financially viable.

Many other factors are involved as well.
IMEI numbers being blacklisted in more and more places around the world, shipping items out of Hong Kong that contain lithium batteries is becoming almost impossible unless a high cost is paid (for whatever reason).
AliExpress has even stopped shipping to many destinations Newer Android versions are becoming far more secure and therefore prohibitive to use in some cases.
More people are taking a less “risky” choice and buying the BT watches and bracelets - as @Edward mentioned.

So, what next??
We do actually mean it when we say that our passion is Full Android Watches, so I have a teleconference booked to talk about the future of FAWs with the key people in China soon (factories, brands and solution providers).
Luckily, our relationship with them is strong and I hope we can work something out.
The future of the FAW devices is a painful topic that needs to be discussed seriously.
Something radical needs to happen (design, functionality, sourcing components, power consumption, waterproofing etc.) while keeping costs reasonable.

Having said all that, remember that we are non-profit here and this is all voluntary on our part, so we have to fit this stuff in while doing our regular day jobs.

Of course, if \ when we have any updates for you, we will let you know.
I suspect that there will still be a couple of new models coming in the following months that were designed earlier in 2022, but it is a very slow and quiet time at the moment.
Fingers crossed that something can be done. :+1:

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Thank you!

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@antman
In answer to the lack of development or collaboration between app developers and the FAW products:
It is mostly due to the fact that Google has a “minimum specification” for certification when it comes to hardware running Google apps and Play Services.
Basically, any device that has a screen size less than 2.5 inches will not be “officially” given certification to run Google Play Services.
In turn, developers have to comply with this requirement to be able to sell their apps on the play store.

The official “public” reason for this is to “guarantee the quality of the user experience”
Unofficially, we all know that it is because this same corporation has its own watch operating system for devices with a screen smaller than 2.5" and it is closed source.
However, it also requires a lot of time and effort on their part to ensure that these custom devices we are interested in are meeting basic requirements.
Then there is the security aspect. Most of the Chinese devices absolutely do not comply and this is also why they tend to run old, outdated versions of Android. They use “custom” apps that “break” SE-Linux and other security criteria as well as resources for app data hosted outside of any governance.
The BT stack is also very customised on FAWs and because it is designed to enable functionality that works for the custom Chinese tethering solutions, it also breaks usage for some regular BT apps that work on run of the mill Android devices.
Hence the International FW project which attempts to address some of these complex issues.

So, it’s very difficult to get app devs to go out on a limb and ensure that their software works on a device that is not technically supported by the Google ecosystem.

There is a very small possibility that this might change in the near future and it will be awesome if this happens.
But for now, unless you are using WearOS - apps are just not guaranteed to operate correctly in a round screen, and that’s why your little hand held device will work better for you at the moment (amongst other reasons). Developers simply focus on certified devices because they comply to a “standard” set by Google.

We are constantly looking for ways to improve the overlay and allow apps to run in a “square mode” on the round watches whilst seeking to get google on-side for the square watches as well.

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The future of full android smartwatches looks so bleak, the first step was for King-Wear to stop manufacturing the watches.
I’m really worried about the future…

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Well, yes KingWear was probably the best factory and when they stopped production of Android watches in 2019, it was a great loss.
It’s mainly due to the cost of the components which is crippling the situation and having to use older versions of Android.
KingWear pulled out for exactly this reason because they could see the way things were going.
However, there are a couple of really good factories that are still able to produce good devices. But they are facing the same challenges :frowning:

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If you’re looking for a reliable watch I reccommend the Kospet Note. I have been using mine for 20 months without any problems except for a damaged charger which I was able to source on Aliexpress.
The OS is still the original Android 7.1 and I frequently get more than 10 hours battery life. I leave location and Bluetooth switched off until I need them, as I found them to be very hard on the battery.
The watch was bought for 129 euro in the official Kospet store on Ali and has been good value. I think you would have to pay quite a bit more for one today.
Let’s hope that similar and even better rectangular watches are introduced in the near future and that you find something suitable for your needs.
Best wishes for the new year.
N

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I agree . One of the best watches i have used :+1:

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