After weeks of rumors and leaked photos, Google finally confirmed the Pixel Watch is real. Today’s announcement is more of a hoax than a full reveal, however, as the watch is coming alongside the Pixel 7 later this fall.
Given that the Pixel Watch is 2022’s worst-kept wearable secret, there wasn’t anything too surprising in terms of design. As suspected, the Pixel Watch has a circular, domed design and features a “tactile” crown and side button. It is made from recycled stainless steel and has interchangeable proprietary straps. It will also run on an “improved” Wear OS 3, which will offer an “updated user interface” with better navigation and smarter notifications. You also have the option to select a cellular version of the device for standalone connectivity.
In terms of software, Google says the Pixel Watch will have the native Google apps you’d expect, as well as shiny new Fitbit integration. That includes staples like Google Maps and Assistant, but also apps like Google Wallet and Google Home, which are new to Wear OS. Another feature of Wear OS is Emergency SOS. We’ve seen this feature on other smartwatches, and the gist of it is that you can use your watch to contact a trusted friend or family member and call emergency services. As for the Fitbit integration, you can view insights into heart rate, sleep tracking, and active zone minutes.
The Fitbit integration is the most significant collaboration between the two companies we’ve seen since Google bought Fitbit for $2.1 billion. (Technically, adding the Google Assistant to the Fitbit Versa 3 and Sense was the first.) According to Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of Devices and Services, this Fitbit integration will go beyond customizing watch faces and will “permeate” the Pixel Watch. . Experience. Users can sync their data to a Fitbit account, which means they can view it on the Fitbit app and on the web. The watch uses all of Fitbit’s latest health and fitness algorithms.
Speaking of privacy, Osterloh said in a briefing that due to promises they made to regulators during the Fitbit acquisition, Fitbit and Google data will remain private and separate, meaning everyone on the Pixel Watch health information collected remains the responsibility of Fitbit, separate from Google. Osterloh added that while the Fitbit team was heavily involved with the Pixel Watch, Fitbit still has plans for its own Wear OS watch and will continue to make its own products.
And that’s it in terms of concrete details that we have now. In terms of cost, Google says it will be a “premium price product”. Another potential snag is that the Pixel Watch requires a phone running Android 8.0 or later, and you need a Google account. So, like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, the Pixel Watch won’t be compatible with iPhones like previous Wear OS watches were. We asked Google and they wouldn’t tell us why. Otherwise, the company has been closed on the watch’s specs, wouldn’t tell us what chip it uses, or if it will come in different sizes or colors, and so on. Google also wouldn’t say if it has advanced features like EKG, which could require unusual regulatory approval. More details, the company said, will be announced in the coming months.
While there’s still a lot we don’t know, the most notable takeaway is that Google is trying to push its pixel ecosystem – much like Apple uses the Apple Watch. The addition of apps like Google Home and Fitbit integration make the Pixel Watch an attractive option for longtime Fitbit users and anyone who has invested in Google’s smart home offerings. Of course, a lot will depend on how the Pixel Watch performs in real life, what its specs are, and if it’s delivering all the hype. We’ll have to wait until the watch launches later this fall to pass judgment. But at least on paper, Google seems to have a game plan – which is more than we can say for its latest attempt at making a smartwatch.
Update May 13th: Added more stuff that Google didn’t want us to know.