The Linux Smartwatch: AsteroidOS
I’ve mentioned at the Dark Android Project before–and on my tech podcast, Sovryn Tech–that I think the future of communications (not necessarily computing) will not be the smartphone, but the smartwatch. The near-100 year-old Dick Tracy dream will likely come true. When you think about it, there’s really no good reason that a smartwatch can’t handle phone calls (especially with bluetooth earpieces), using a ride-share service, GPS mapping, or even texting (ingenious smartwatch keyboards have already been developed). So why not turn it all over to a more convenient form factor like a smartwatch?
And while this prospect excites me (and I think is totally viable), personally, in the interests of privacy and security, I’d prefer it not being a platform/space controlled entirely by Apple and Alphabet/Google. I’d like a genuinely open-source option for my wearables, and neither WatchOS or Android Wear offer that. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if I could have a specialized Linux distro on my watch?
Well…looks like I can. Enter: AsteroidOS.
SIDE NOTE: Why is it called AsteroidOS? No idea. Maybe it means I’ll be able to play a classic game of Asteroids on my watch with it? I think that’s a great idea. No, seriously, just read my thoughts on smartwatch gaming.
AsteroidOS is a full Linux distro, totally open-source, and is already well in development with test versions ready to be installed on many Android Wear devices. The beauty of it being Linux-based is that porting Linux software or Android apps would be easy. I wouldn’t be surprised if the F-Droid app repository will come automatically installed in the near future, there for you to install your favorite free and open-source apps.
And since it is running an independent Linux distro, that means your smartwatch won’t have to be tethered to your smartphone. Perhaps it could more easily be tethered to your PC (a much more intriguing option), or it could function entirely on its own as a calls-and-text enabled device when loaded on a SIM-card loaded smartwatch like the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE (woo…what a mouthful). The latter is the more exciting idea, in my opinion. Give me the opportunity to throw away my smartphone and let me use my watch to communicate, and do shit that matters on my PC.
SIDE NOTE: Before anyone asks, yes, I am a huge fan of the Pebble watches. But as it stands they’re not looking to disrupt the entire smartphone market, which is what I’m hoping AsteroidOS could allow for.
Of course, if you’re the kind that likes to have your smartwatch tethered to your phone, an open platform like AsteroidOS would likely allow for that in some fashion. Also, if you’re the kind that likes having a health tracker, AsteroidOS solves what I consider one of the biggest problems with FitBits and AppleWatch: Since AsteroidOS is its own system, you could likely keep your health data to yourself with some localized health app, instead of sending all of your data off to some server, or for governments/insurance companies to dissect and use against you (in a “court of law” or otherwise).
Bottom line, developments in the wearable space like AsteroidOS are welcome and needed. Duopolies are almost as bad as monopolies, and right now that’s largely what we have as far as smartwatches go. I look forward to AsteroidOS trying to break that up, and doing so with open-source style.