As a long-time Android user, I’ve spent the better part of a decade on the fringes of an entire product category, waiting for a wearable device that could rival the one. Apple watch. From startups to traditional watchmakers, many companies I promised a worthy alternative, only to launch smartwatches with crippling compromises. Each flaw dampened hopes for a viable Apple Watch rival, while Google, the company responsible for the underlying Android smartwatch OS apparently lost interest in its own platform.
Now there are reasons to be hopeful again. Google recently woke up from its slumber and associated with Samsungwhose Galaxy smartwatches have long been the top picks for non-iPhone users to build Wear OS 3. When the first smartwatch running the new software platform arrived on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, it was widely announced by the criticsincluding us) as the “first good Android smartwatch”. Sales of that watch have increased Android wearables market share in recent months.
Google plans to build on this momentum with the long-awaited launch of its own Pixel Watch. Yes, a Pixel Watch, not a Fitbit one as it was postulated later Acquisition of Fitbit by Google last year. I’m not very hopeful, but everything I’ve seen so far suggests that Google’s first smartwatch could soon form a tan line on my left wrist.
The latest encouraging information comes from leaker Jon Prosser, who posted on his YouTube channel what he says are official promotional photos. Coinciding with previous renderings from the same sources, these leaked marketing materials show images (albeit grainy) of the rumored Google Pixel Watch.
If this is the real deal, the Pixel Watch will have a simple circular design with a virtually bezel-less watch face that appears to cascade around the edges. On the right side there is a substantial crown for physical checks. And unlike the somewhat chunky Apple Watch, the Pixel Watch looks impressively thin in these renders.
It looks, well, luxurious. And although not everyone will like the design, the low-profile watch looks so small that you probably wouldn’t even notice it during the day, even during a workout. I also like that there is a physical dial for interacting with Wear OS 3 because swiping around such a small screen can be a headache.
While the leak doesn’t reveal specs or offer a feature summary, some of the purported marketing slides show what you can do with the watch, including the ability to Get directions on Google Maps, track health metrics, and answer phone calls.
I admit, I stopped paying close attention to the Pixel Watch rumors as a way to protect myself from any other heartbreak, but the success of the Pixel 6 has rekindled my faith in Google after some questionable hardware decisions (raise your hand, Pixel 5 owners). Remember, Google upset the smartphone industry when the original Pixel launched and you have a chance to do it again with the Pixel Watch.
But let me slow down for a second, because there are still too many missing pieces in this puzzle. How Google plans to position the Pixel Watch as a full-fledged rival to the Apple Watch or a wearable device similar to Fitbit focused on fitness–remains a mystery, as are the components responsible for providing a seamless experience (something previous Android watches have struggled with).
I’m also concerned about what the watch’s thinness means for battery life – the Achilles’ heel of most wearables. Using a battery that is too small to get through a full day of use is a sure way to ruin a smartwatch. I wouldn’t mind a few millimeters thicker if you keep the wearable alive until the second day.. I’m speculating here, but the poor resistance has been the kryptonite in many Android watches, and the small design shown in this latest leak puzzles me.
Google is rumored to debut the Pixel Watch sometime in 2022, so Android users can start setting their analog clocks for what we all hope will be the last time.