Polar watches are generally very good running and triathlon devices, but they are very stripped down when it comes to looks and functionality.
With excellent running stats and GPS credentials, they can compete with Garmin and Apple in our list of the best running watches, but their lack of functionality outside of sports keeps them from being serious rivals to devices from Apple and Samsung, and the Google Pixel Watch, in the lifestyle space. They don’t run third-party apps or offer much connected functionality beyond the basic notifications.
That could all change, though, with Polar suggesting its next watch could run Google’s WearOS operating system. This information comes from Polar CEO Sander Werring (opens in new tab), in an interview with Wareable.
“Yes, it’s an option,” Werring said during the interview. “This is really a question about the state of the art. And we are now seeing that technology appear.”
Polar’s last watch on the Android platform, the Polar M600, was released in 2016 when the operating system was still called Android Wear, and Werring went on to say that the M600 was ahead of its time.
“We had to do too much heavy lifting at the time because there wasn’t any reference for this kind of technology on Wear OS…sometimes that’s the case with innovations; sometimes you are too early.”
Polar has already started licensing its suite of fitness metrics to partners such as the Casio G-Shock announced last weekand Werring hints that this could be the way to access other technologies that Polar doesn’t currently offer, such as electrocardiogram scans, more commonly known as EKG.
Many of the other best smartwatches, including Apple Watches, offer EKG scans, but Polar never got into it. Having its watches in the WearOS ecosystem allows other developers to handle the ECG functionality while Polar focuses on what it does best.
In our Google Pixel Watch review, we said Fitbit integration with Google could be tighter. I like the Fitbit ecosystem from an overall design standpoint, but if you’re a regular runner, Polar’s advanced selection of running metrics is better.
You get running power on the wrist to measure the effort you put in while running (which Fitbit doesn’t); GPS features like Track Back, which takes you back to the start of a route (which Fitbit doesn’t do either); plus stride length, cadence, and a host of other advanced stats, all laid out in an easy-to-access way that users don’t need an additional premium subscription to access.
If Polar could turn its excellent fitness features into a truly connected WearOS smartwatch, it would be a force to be reckoned with. And Google wouldn’t have a thing to worry about as this would all still be based on Google’s own WearOS platform; indeed it is a sign that WearOS is maturing as intended.
However, the fact that other companies want to piggyback on the success of WearOS could be a blow to Apple, as the emergence of new and improved connected devices on WearOS 3.5 would see the smartwatch space flooded with high-end Google-based products. creating more choices than ever – and fewer reasons for Android users to switch to Apple.