Fossil beats Apple to the punch with sleep tracking in huge new Gen 5 update


The US-based Fossil Group is without a doubt the most prolific and ambitious manufacturer of Wear OS-powered smartwatches in the world right now, but sadly for Google, that's not saying much. The reason why this seemingly remarkable achievement is in fact not that impressive can be traced back to Samsung's decision to focus entirely on its homebrewed Tizen OS for its Apple Watch alternatives instead of supporting a struggling platform formerly known as Android Wear.

One by one, Motorola, Sony, LG, Asus, and Huawei also turned their backs on either Wear OS or the thriving smartwatch industry as a whole, making room for Fossil's market flooding operation with both own-brand devices and products carrying names as diverse as Michael Kors, Diesel, Emporio Armani, and Puma.

Itself frustrated with the slow progress of a 6 year-old software platform that continues to lack many of the core features of its younger and more successful rivals, the fashion designer has decided to take matters into its own hands and improve the Wear OS-based Fossil Gen 5 lineup without any help from Google.

Cool new features, same old battery life

In keeping with last week's promise, the company has reportedly kicked off a major update for its newest smartwatches on Wednesday. The biggest add-on is undoubtedly sleep tracking, a functionality available on Samsung and Fitbit's best wearable devices for a pretty long time now.

Of course, the timing of the rollout suggests Fossil still thinks it can beat Apple at its own game, technically stealing the watchOS thunder as the latest version of that operating system is not yet publicly and widely available in stable form.

Another major new feature enabled on the Fossil Gen 5 family, as well as the company's latest Michael Kors-branded smartwatches, is something called VO2 max tracking. This is mainly advertised as a key selling point on many fitness-centric Garmin devices, measuring your maximum rate of oxygen consumption to keep an eye on your general health levels and monitor your improvements over time.

In case you're worried these add-ons will negatively impact the battery life of your specific Fossil Gen 5 model, you'll be happy to know the company has thought of that too, enhancing the energy efficiency of this extensive smartwatch collection by better using all of its hardware resources.

Specifically, Fossil is essentially taking some of the pressure off Qualcomm's not-very-impressive Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor by moving certain tasks onto the shoulders of the QCC1110 co-processor.

Doing what Google won't do

Fossil's so-called "smart battery modes" are also getting even smarter by integrating new customization features that will allow users to easily change their settings and further reduce power consumption in a number of predefined scenarios, all for the same final purpose of squeezing at least 24 hours of endurance from a Gen 5 device capable of continuously monitoring your heart rate and sleep quality.

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Finally, the always important Phone app is getting several notable improvements of its own, including a new tile for quick access in support of Google's latest significant Wear OS update, as well as fun avatars for contacts and the ability to answer tethered calls both when connected to Android handsets and iPhones.

Overall, this extensive list of tweaks and enhancements looks considerably more impressive than the next "big" Wear OS promotion, which highlights Fossil's great ambition in this incredibly challenging market, as well as Google's inability to take its Apple-rivaling mission seriously.

Granted, it's still hard to recommend a Gen 5 purchase at a $295 list price, but on the bright side, it's certainly not difficult to score a substantial discount from time to time.

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