How to Surf the Web on a Samsung Watch and Why February 4, 2023

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Browsing the web on a Samsung smart watch is no news. The stock browser "Samsung Internet Browser" was briefly discontinued but is now back at the Play Store. There are ways to install third-party watch-friendly browsers, but the official browser works just fine.

At first glace, there is no interface for directly entering a web address. The "search" feature in the Samsung browser is a misnomer. A well-formed web link can be entered, and the web page is opened directly. A more convenient method of entering web address is to import the bookmarks from the paired phone, which also runs a Samsung Internet Browser.

Granted, the round screen of a smart watch is not a practical form factor for even casual browsing, not to mention its small size. Most websites assume a reasonable large viewing surface. Mobile responsive layouts are optimized for, well, rectangular mobile phones. In fact, some "watch browsers" attempt to squeeze the page content into a square instead of trimming off the corners. This approach loses even more screen real-estate. The Samsung browser uses a gesture to slide the viewport into the corner. This is still an awkward workaround.

In an effort to make Gyroscope apps usable, we first investigated how the standard version is challenged by a watch interface:

Overall Issues:

  • Text too small to read
  • Light theme wastes battery; inconsistent experience
  • Left-aligned content cut off
  • Controls at corners inaccessible

Login Screen:

The sharp corners offer no harmony with the rounded medium

Welcome Screen:

The toolbar shows few items. Scrolling through the icons is difficult. The sign out button is cut off. Footer links are partially cut off.

Version Screen (and other full-screen views):

The Close button is cut off

Optimized Watch Experience

Gyroscope 19.9 recognizes Samsung watches and displays an optimized round-screen experience.

System-wide Changes:

  • Larger texts
  • Force dark mode
  • Center-align lists and buttons

Specific Changes:

Login screen shows more curves

A "home" icon toggles the tool belt in the Center of the watch

A centered "close" icon for closing full-screen views

When a full-screen view is displayed, the watch screen will not turn off. This is useful for streaming vital statistics in real-time. For example, the sale volume during a flash sale, or the price of a stock symbol.

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