Sorry, iPhone Users: The Galaxy Ring Won't Work for You. Why That's a Mistake

When Samsung teased the Galaxy Ring in January, there were many looming questions about specs and availability. But one question that dominated my mind was: Will Samsung "pull an Apple"? Meaning, will this discreet new health tracker only be available to those with a Samsung phone – and who are willing to stay within the confines of a clearly defined ecosystem

The answer, we now know, is yes.

When Samsung finally shared the availability of the Galaxy Ring at its Unpacked event on Wednesday, it noted the new health wearable could only be paired with an Android device that runs the Samsung Health app. But more specifically, a Galaxy smartphone is required to access Health AI features like Energy Score, which analyzes metrics like average sleep time and heart rate variability. 

I wasn't shocked by this decision, but I was disappointed. I'd been holding out hope that the company would play nice, rather than take a page out of Apple's exclusivity book. Instead, it appears Samsung is using the Galaxy Ring to fortify its own walled garden.

Samsung has certainly worked to bolster and promote its Galaxy ecosystem for years. Buy a Galaxy smartphone, watch, tablet, laptop and earbuds, and experience seamless connectivity across devices – you don't just have to go to Apple for that. Factor in the broader range of appliances and TVs the company makes, and it's easy to form brand loyalty. 

Apple's ecosystem, which links everything from iPhones to MacBooks to the Apple Watch, has been part of its allure for many fans, thanks to its convenience. Even I, as someone who recently switched from a Galaxy phone to an iPhone, have been reveling in the convenience of copying and pasting links across my iPhone and MacBook, and AirDropping photos and videos in an instant.

But that connectivity has also spurred plenty of disdain from those outside Apple's walled garden. For instance, the Apple Watch doesn't work with Android phones (though, to be fair, the Galaxy Watch similarly doesn't work with iPhones). The Apple TV Plus app isn't available on Google Play. And although AirPods work with non-Apple devices, you won't be able to access all features, like summoning Siri

That exclusivity has even pushed the US Department of Justice to leverage a sweeping antitrust complaint against Apple, in which it accuses the iPhone maker of hindering competition. Notably, it alleges Apple "undermines cross-platform messaging" by not extending its iMessage service to Android. (Apple, for its part, has maintained that keeping iMessage exclusive to its own devices is in the interest of user privacy and security, and notes that upcoming support for RCS messaging will improve communication with non-iPhone users.) 

Samsung hasn't gotten as much blowback for its ecosystem, largely because the company's phones don't have as much of a stronghold in the US. But it's also been less adamant about creating a divide between the haves and the have-nots. Texting someone from a Samsung phone is a pretty consistent experience, regardless of whether they have the same kind of device – any differences are generally a result of Apple's restrictions. The Galaxy Watch, while not compatible with the iPhone, pairs well with Google's Pixel phones (though you'll need a Galaxy phone to access certain features like AI and ECG measurements). And Samsung's SmartThings app for home appliances is available on Apple's App Store, so you can use an iPhone or iPad to remotely control your fridge, for instance. 

But now, the Galaxy Ring is helping Samsung stand apart from competitors like Apple and Google. And Samsung is using that distinction to try to lure people into its Galaxy ecosystem. 

Whether the Ring will be enough to entice new fans remains to be seen. But I feel making the product compatible with Android and iOS phones could have done more to conjure interest in other Galaxy devices. If someone with an iPhone enjoys using the Ring, they might start eyeing other Galaxy products like phones, smartwatches and tablets. And as CNET's Patrick Holland noted in his Galaxy Ring wishlist, "Keeping the ring exclusive to Samsung, or even just to Android phones, will deter people from buying it."

Samsung appears to be at a crossroads here: follow the path of exclusivity that competitors have forged, or open the Ring up to more people and hope they buy into the ecosystem? By taking the former route, Samsung is seemingly gearing up to fight fire with fire – exclusivity with exclusivity. And consumers, once again, will be caught in the crossfire.


Related stories
6 days ago - This summer's Samsung Galaxy Unpacked brought a handful of new devices including the highly anticipated Galaxy Ring, two new phones -- the Z Fold 6...
2 days ago - Commentary: Phone makers like Samsung and Apple hope you'll get so hooked on their new AI features that you'll someday pay for them. I'm not yet convinced that's necessary.
6 days ago - The Galaxy Ring tracks sleep quality, lasts nearly a week on a single charge, and controls your phone. Is that enough to take smart rings mainstream?
2 days ago - A supercheap Android phone with looks to spare  The VergeNothing’s CMF Phone 1 iPhone Challenger Hits Landmark In Record Time  ForbesReview: Nothing's $199 CMF Phone (1) is either the best deal in Android or too good to be...
4 days ago - Here are the best headphones you can get right now, based on CNET's extensive hands-on testing.
Other stories
8 minutes ago - The plan to roll back ‘burdensome regulations’ would favor Silicon Valley investors, who are now flocking to support the former president.
13 minutes ago - Save some money on Xbox consoles, Steam Deck accessories, PS5 games, and storage devices
13 minutes ago - Dead By Daylight’s Cross Progression Is Coming  Dead by DaylightDead by Daylight x Tomb Raider - Official Trailer  IGNChaotic new DBD 2V8 mode is exactly what the game needs right now  PCGamesNDead By Deadlight Gets Lara Croft Survivor...
13 minutes ago - Anthropic’s Claude now has an Android app  9to5GoogleAnthropic releases Claude app for Android  TechCrunchAnthropic's Claude app is finally available on Android. Here's why you should download it  ZDNetAnthropic Co-Founder: AI’s future...
13 minutes ago - Xbox Game Pass Is Closing Out July 2024 With Five More Games  GameSpotMicrosoft Unveils Xbox Game Pass July 2024 Wave 2 Lineup, Leaves Plenty of Room for Call of Duty Later in the Month  IGNXbox Teases Another Game Pass Announcement is...