How Samsung leapfrogged the Apple Watch, with slightly assist from Google


The Apple Watch nonetheless dominates the smartwatch market with 36% market share, whereas Samsung operates in a respectable-but-distant second place at 10%, based on Counterpoint Analysis. However, in Q1 2022, Samsung grew its market share by over 20% year-over-year whereas Apple’s share remained stagnant.

One of many causes for Samsung’s progress could also be the truth that its newest wearable expertise, the Galaxy Watch 4, measures extra features of well being and has options that the Apple Watch doesn’t but embody. In the meantime, each firms are on the right track to launch their subsequent era gadgets over the subsequent couple months — the Galaxy Watch 5 is anticipated on the August 10 Samsung Unpacked occasion and the Apple Watch Sequence 8 is anticipated at Apple’s annual fall occasion in September.

ZDNet caught up with TJ Yang, the pinnacle of Samsung’s analysis & growth staff for well being, to speak about how Samsung has come to this point so shortly in smartwatches and well being monitoring.

Yang highlighted that, for years, Samsung had been placing loads of its concentrate on bettering sleep monitoring. Then, it made its large transfer in well being with the brand new 3-in-1 sensor it unveiled within the Galaxy Watch 4, which was its first gadget to transition to Google’s Put on OS from Samsung’s Tizen software program, which had run its earlier smartwatches.

Each Google and Samsung have struggled to maintain up with the Apple Watch lately, however the tide could also be beginning to flip.

 

Samsung has been engaged on sleep monitoring going all the best way again to 2014 on the early Galaxy Gear smartwatch. By 2018, the Galaxy Watch was monitoring sleep cycles and REM sleep a full two years earlier than sleep monitoring formally got here to the Apple Watch and 4 years earlier than sleep cycles have been launched in WatchOS 9, which formally arrives this fall.

In spring 2020, I wrote about how Apple Watch helped me uncover unhealthy ranges of stress in my life through the use of the SleepWatch app to test my sleep. A more moderen algorithm referred to as Coronary heart Price Variability was what helped me establish the issue. Earlier than Apple Watch launched primary sleep monitoring, third-party apps like SleepWatch and Pillow pioneered it.

In the meantime in 2020, Samsung’s smartwatch launched sleep scores and computerized insights about your sleep patterns. The next yr, Samsung added blood oxygen monitoring whilst you sleep, extra superior sleep scores and loud night breathing detection.

However, 2022 has been the most important leap. Samsung’s newest watch began together with free AI-based sleep teaching that provides ideas and checklists to assist make your sleep high quality higher. This brings loads of content material, together with eight totally different sleep animals to characterize your sleep and make deciphering the sleep knowledge much more person pleasant.

“We’ve made loads of progress in sleep expertise,” stated Yang.

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However the place Samsung made essentially the most progress was with the launch of the 3-in-1 BioActive sensor final August within the Galaxy Watch 4. Combining Optical Coronary heart Price, Electrical Coronary heart and Bioelectrical Impedance Evaluation in a single chip, the BioActive sensor not solely detects irregular heartbeats and measures blood oxygen ranges, however it might additionally test blood strain (a function not accessible within the US but) and measure physique composition. These final two capabilities have come to Samsung’s gadget earlier than arriving on the Apple Watch.

 

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“One of many sensors within the BioActive is named BIA, and it measures physique composition. It measures muscle mass and physique fats,” stated Yang. “That expertise didn’t exist a few years in the past. You needed to go to the fitness center and maintain a form of deal with for 30 seconds to a minute to measure your physique composition. Now it’s in your wrist and you may measure it everytime you need.”

BioActive additionally permits folks to test HRV constantly (below its “Stress” function), which the Apple Watch doesn’t do but. Whereas BioActive pioneered these new options, the best way they have been applied was additionally key.

“We developed this BioActive chip that mixes a number of sensors into one, making it extra environment friendly and efficient,” stated Yang. “And you’ve got an extended battery as a result of it’s [so] power environment friendly.”

The Apple Watch Sequence 7 can simply final 24 hours on a full cost, however the Galaxy Watch 4 goes roughly 50% longer at a day-and-a-half.

With Samsung becoming a member of forces with Google on wearables and now counting on the Put on OS platform for software program, it appears to have cleared a path for Samsung’s well being and wearables staff to pour its power and assets into {hardware} design and sensors – and never only for smartwatches.

“We’re taking a look at different kind elements (for sensors). Earbuds is one in every of them. We’re additionally taking a look at other forms of gadgets,” stated Yang. “When these different gadgets are mixed and related then we are able to use essentially the most applicable gadget and leverage that functionality throughout totally different gadgets.”

Whether or not or not all of these gadgets are wearables is but to be seen. However, it’s clear that Samsung thinks it has lastly discovered a path to achievement in smartwatches and there’s loads of work nonetheless to do. It must work with the FDA to get its blood strain sensor on BioActive accepted within the US. And naturally, there’s nonetheless the matter of blood glucose monitoring, which might not solely have an effect on over 400 million folks world wide who are suffering from diabetes, however might additionally assist many others higher perceive and regulate their eating regimen and vitamin.

Each the upcoming Galaxy Watch 5 and Apple Watch Sequence 8 are reported to be including a Professional mannequin to the lineup. These fashions might be extra rugged variations or they might function higher-end supplies. However, it’s additionally doable that they’ll be the primary fashions so as to add essentially the most superior options and sensors.

No matter occurs with the Professional fashions, each gadgets are more likely to proceed the pattern of placing well being scans that beforehand value hundreds of {dollars} and required a visit to a clinic into gadgets that sometimes value lower than $500 and are sometimes constantly monitoring your well being.

Let’s additionally needless to say the Apple Watch doesn’t work on Android telephones and Samsung’s Galaxy Watch doesn’t pair with the iPhone. So, this sensor race between the 2 most likely gained’t encourage many ecosystem switchers. However, the competitors for the very best options and essentially the most superior sensors is great for pushing each firms ahead, and even higher for shoppers.

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