If Apple Watch 7 wants to blow away the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 when it debuts in a few weeks, it doesn’t need to think that big. In fact, it should steal a rather minor feature from its Wear OS rival — a T9 keyboard.
While the Apple Watch is due for a slew of messaging upgrades thanks to watchOS 8, users still don’t have the option to type their texts without help from one of the best Apple Watch apps from third-party developers. Now, it’s unlikely an Apple Watch keyboard would come alongside a hardware announcement. But after using the one on the Galaxy Watch 4, I’m jealous.
- See our guide to the best smartwatches now
- How to download the watchOS 8 public beta
- Plus: How to use Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 to measure body composition
Among all the best Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Wear OS features, the T9 keyboard is one I use everyday. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 had a T9 keyboard, too, and again I relied on it for texting more often than I thought I would. I know, typing on such a small screen sounds ridiculous, but I appreciated the ability to send messages in cases when I couldn’t use talk to text or didn't want to draw my letters.
If you ask me, the keyboard gives Google's software a leg up in the ongoing Wear OS vs. watchOS battle. When you send messages on Wear OS, you have the option to type them out and see recommended autocomplete words along the way. All you have to do is click on a number, and the corresponding letters appear in a pop-up for you to choose from.
You might know how to send a text message on your Apple Watch, but what if you could type out your message with a couple taps? The workaround exists, so why couldn’t Apple launch a native version?
Right now, the only practical way to compose messages on the Apple Watch without the help of a non-Apple app is by using the talk-to-text feature. I find it usually transcribes my dictation accurately, even over a slew of ambient sounds, but there should be a more discreet and efficient means to communicate with others from your wrist.
On the Galaxy Watch 4, I type out messages more than I dictate them. Over the last year and a half of working from home, I’ve grown sick of talking to myself. Sure, I still talk to my dog like he’s a colleague, but it feels less awkward to write out my texts when no one’s voice is speaking back to me.
I’m not optimistic I’ll be able to do this on my Apple Watch without a third-party app anytime soon. Again, with the watchOS 8 messages overhaul, it seems the next year of Apple Watch features is mapped out. Instead, the Apple Watch 7 will probably come with some exclusive tools such as a new health sensor or a special Apple Watch 7 display setting. Rumors point to an imminent Apple Watch 7 redesign, too.
In other words, don’t wait for the Apple Watch 7 for the possibility of a keyboard. It'll remain Samsung's advantage in the anticipated Apple Watch 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 face-off. For now, I'll hope we'll finally see an Apple Watch keyboard in watchOS 9.