I found the perfect use case for Wear OS, but it’s not a watch

Huawei P50 pocket white clamshell closed with external display date and time screensaver

Rita L. Khuri / Android Authority

The clamshell foldable Huawei P50 is an impressive piece of pocket hardware, but the element that caught my attention from the moment I held it was the display. When the phone is turned off, you’ll see two huge circles: one for the camera sensor and the LED flash, the other for the external display. This is the secondary display that I’m coming back to because it looks like the perfect placeholder for Wear OS.

Our pick: The best Wear OS watch

I know this is a weird thing to say, so let me explain.

Huawei P50 pocket white clamshell yellow table down

Rita L. Khuri / Android Authority

An exhibition: The touchscreen display is a circle, like most Wear OS watches, and it displays brief information that you can work on quickly without examining your phone’s main display. Exactly like a smartwatch.

Huawei P50 pocket white clamshell with weather on the outside of the Galaxy Watch 4 with weather off

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Exhibition B: Huawei is already using round displays for features like smartwatches. You can read your notifications, check the date and time and see the weather

Huawei P50 pocket white clamshell off without notice on the outside display of the Galaxy Watch 4

Rita L. Khuri / Android Authority

Exhibition C: There’s even a low-power clock mode that doesn’t illuminate the entire display, instead turning on a few pixels to show the date, time and battery level (pictured at the top of the post). Once you turn on the display, you’ll see the whole watch with a neat animation (pictured below). Compared to fully active mode, a smartwatch is like an always on display.

Huawei P50 pocket watch with white clamshell watch, Galaxy Watch 4 with watch on the external display.

Rita L. Khuri / Android Authority

We already have a platform – Wear OS – whose sole purpose is to serve as a good secondary display in our smartphones, so why do companies have to redesign the wheel to give us a fraction of that functionality in their phone’s secondary display?

Huawei P50 pocket white clamshell closed with exterior display camera viewfinder

Rita L. Khuri / Android Authority

Now imagine if they don’t. Imagine that Google has already decided to make Wear OS (based on Android) available on devices running full-on Android. Or at least all Wear OS APIs. Instead of being limited to how we can interact or respond to notifications from secondary displays, instead of having access to voice commands, choosing between just a few widgets and apps, we will have the right notification support. Installed the app, and all the panels and widgets we can think of. Raised an extra finger to add support without third party developers.

Related: The best Wear OS app for your watch

Huawei P50 pocket white clamshell closed with camera icon on the external display

Rita L. Khuri / Android Authority

Wouldn’t a secondary clamshell or back display be the perfect use for the Wear OS? The platform already supports rectangular and circular displays, so phone makers will not be limited to the circle form factor. Theoretically, devices like the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, Meizu Pro 7 Plus, Motorola Razr series and Galaxy Z Flip series could benefit from this. I’m just throwing this wish into the world.

Does Wear OS make sense on a secondary smartphone display?

13 votes

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