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Google needs to stop messing around and finally release a Pixel Watch

Android Smartwatches Lifestyle
Android Smartwatches Lifestyle (Image credit: Chris Wedel/Android Central)

Google has been in the smartwatch game since 2014 with the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live running Android Wear. Still, you might be surprised to find out that it has never had its own branded wearable. We hear rumblings each year that Google is releasing a Pixel Watch, but it still hasn't. Revamps of its phone OS with Android 12 and the wearable platform with Wear OS 3, however, now means 2021 is the perfect time for Google to release a Pixel Watch.

Samsung currently has a monopoly on the latest iteration of Wear OS with its recently launched Galaxy Watch 4 series and as great as Samsung is at many things, this smartwatch isn't shaping up to be the Wear OS savior many fans hoped for. As of now, Google is leaving many of its long-time wearable partners in the dark on exactly when the update to Wear OS 3 will come. Doing so only makes the platform more reliant on Samsung. There are many reasons that Google needs to stop messing around and make a Pixel Watch, and owning the platform is only one.

A Pixel Watch didn't make much sense... until now

Google Pixel Watch Leak

Source: Jon ProsserA picture of a leaked Pixel Watch. (Image credit: Source: Jon Prosser)

The first device to get the Pixel moniker was the Chromebook Pixel in 2013, and it wasn't until 2016 that Google released a phone using the name. Since then, we've gotten more devices to continue growing the Pixel brand with earbuds, wireless chargers, more Chromebooks, and a pencil. The other major players in consumer electronics, Apple and Samsung, have their own premium ecosystems, but each of those has the one thing Google doesn't — a smartwatch.

As much as I would like to have gotten a Pixel Watch years ago, it didn't make as much sense as it would now. That's because before Wear OS 3, every smartwatch available was going to essentially run the same software. However, Google is finally treating the new version of its wearable software like it does its Android phones. Each manufacturer that uses the platform will skin it as they choose, as Samsung did with the Galaxy Watch 4 and One UI Watch.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Lifestyle

Source: Chris Wedel / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Chris Wedel / Android Central)

A Pixel Watch gives Google a chance to expand its experience with its smartphones onto another screen. There are plenty of Pixel-only features, and now that it's fair game to brands to customize the new Wear OS 3, Google can reasonably use it itself. Yes, it can be frustrating when only certain features are locked to a single device or brand, but as much as we all may dislike it, we can't stop it.

There are plenty of excellent Android smartwatches on the market, and though not all, some will get the new Wear OS 3 update. Watches like the new TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra and new Fossil Gen 6 devices are slated for the update, as are the other smartwatches on the Snapdragon 4100 platform. So long as Google continues to support its partners in the wearable space, there is plenty of room for multiple Wear OS brands.

Why Google needs to get into the smartwatch game

Google Pixel 6 Pixel Watch Leak

Source: Jon ProsserA picture of a leaked Pixel Watch. (Image credit: Source: Jon Prosser)

By adding a Pixel Watch to its hardware portfolio, Google could also finally make Google Fit a more robust service. This would also serve current and future Fitbit devices well, whether those products run Wear OS or not. Perhaps by owning its own wearable, Google would finally see the shortcomings of the Google Fit platform. While the service is OK, it is far behind Samsung Health, Apple, and even Fitbit.

Not only does a Pixel Watch complete the Pixel ecosystem, but it also fulfills other areas in the Google-verse.

If rumors are to be believed and Google does launch a Pixel Pass alongside the upcoming Pixel 6, a smartwatch would be a perfect add-on. Google has plenty of services that pair up wonderfully with its hardware offerings, but looping in a wearable could be a fantastic cherry on top of the Pixel experience.

Integrating a wearable would also have implications for Google in the smart home realm too. Google already has the ability to know where you are based on your phone and the smart speakers, thermostats, and cameras folks have in their homes. I could see some helpful automation be made possible by adding in a smartwatch, too. There are some potential privacy issues here, of course, but so long as it is opt-in, we should be fine.

Current Wear OS smartwatches have plenty of faults, from performance to software. But Google is trying to fix some of the software woes with the Wear OS 3, and unfortunately, many of the wearable partners are at the will of Qualcomm with some of the performance issues. However, the Snapdragon 4100 series, with proper memory support, runs the current Wear OS quite well. Aside from revamping the operating system, Google could offer improved performance on a Pixel Watch with a custom chip as it is with its upcoming phones.

By putting an in-house processor in a smartwatch based on the Tensor SoC for the Pixel 6, Google would own the stack and fully control how the watch performs. This setup is how Samsung's Galaxy watches and the Apple Watch can do things that no other Wear OS watch currently can.

Google's lack of effort in the past for its wearable platform both in software and hardware is putting it behind the eight ball, but now is the perfect time for a Pixel Watch. If Google truly wants to compete in the hardware world against the giants that already have a headstart, it can't afford to waste any more time.

Chris Wedel
Senior Editor - Smart Home
Chris Wedel is a fan of all things tech and gadgets. Living in rural Kansas with his wife and two young boys makes finding ways to get and stay online tricky. By utilizing his years of experience with the tech and mobile communications industries — success is assured. When not conquering connectivity challenges and testing new gadgets, he enjoys cruising a gravel road in his UTV with some good tunes.
12 Comments
  • What's the current pixel Chromebook called again?
  • Pixelbook is the newest, but even it's a few years old
  • This article is 180 degrees off. A Pixel watch is less likely to be made now that Samsung is using WearOS. If Google really wanted to make a watch, don't you think they would have already made one, and do you think they would have partnered with Samsung on a wearOs watch? fuzzylumpkin, I get where you were going here!
  • I disagree. Whether I agree Google should I 100% believe that there will be a Google manufactured and sold watch running a non One UI interface and integrated better with their services. I just happen to think that it will be Fitbit branded, not Pixel.
  • I'll expand on this and say that Google should also make a Pixel TV.
  • I'm sorry to say, but at this point, who cares. Releasing a Pixel Watch would serve only to complete a self-fulfilling prophecy that Google itself seems to have wanted for a number of years - that is, hardware is a waste of their time. They've never been serious about hardware, nor truly care to embrace how it should fit into the larger ecosystem of their software and services. It's why Apple is so successful, and Samsung is the only Android manufacturer making any profit in the United States and several other countries. I can't understand how anyone at this point can truly look to Google for hardware given their long track record a failure they've brought upon themselves through poor decision-making and refusal to commit. We're all very well familiar with Google's long history of canceling various different apps and services after having built a loyal following, but when it comes to hardware, this lack of strategy is only worse and just as disheartening. On hardware, Google doesn't really care about anything in the Android world beyond phones, and it's why that product category is about the only thing you can count on for them to release with any sense of regularity. But even then, Google can't get its act together. Every Pixel phone (just as Nexus before it) is different from the last.. the shift in focus is jarring, often inexplicable, and highly off-putting. Now let's look at Android tablets and Android TV before we get to Android Wear, of which this fabled Pixel Watch has been requested for years in articles just like this one. Looking at Android tablets, Google has never taken them seriously - software support has been virtually non-existent, and tablet specific UI was phased out in less than 3 Android versions. And we all know how Google approach hardware for tablets.. like Chrome OS today, hardware comes out one year and then Google has nothing to say about it for years afterwards. (And that's putting aside what an incredible failure it's been bringing Android to Chrome OS: anyone who has to slog through that sorry experience can tell you there's no other word to describe it other than disappointing.) It's the same story with Android TV, a platform that quite literally goes years without so much as lip service from Google, let alone any meaningful software updates. The hardware story on this front is even more desolate: we had the Nexus player, and underpowered box that song next to no support less than two years into its life cycle, and then we had to wait six years for Google to release a streaming dongle that even Walmart won't touch. Let's not even get into how Google has treated nest. Suffice it to say, there's no sense of continuity, longevity, or security to Google's hardware lineup. With all of Google's hardware history taken into account, honest question: why would you actually want a Pixel Watch? Why would you ever believe that Google would do anything other than release the watch and then forget about it a year or two later? Wear OS itself saw very little attention from Google after its initial release, and they've let it rot so badly that they had to bring in Samsung to fix it. What possible evidence could anyone have that a Pixel Watch would go any differently than Google's previous hardware efforts? The only way Google can fix this is to get serious about hardware - they would have to be consistent for years on end, and build a customer base slowly over time. We all know that's not going to happen. But I wish it would.
  • looking at Wear OS, google obviously doesn't care about software either lol
  • Samsung owns the full size, full feature Android watch space with a couple of models. Google doesn't need to make another wear OS watch... What would be the point? Google is clearly in the larger light smartwatch fitness space already with the purchase of Fitbit. If they fixed the awful Fitbit Sense, that is where they should start. I bought one and returned it the next day because it would not charge... Then I found all the awful online complaints about the hot mess that the Fitbit Sense watch is.
  • Because Samsung watches are still heavily tilted towards Samsung phones? Enough reason for me. My dislike of Samsung watches other than the rotating bezel are actually a thing that’s kept me with Apple after a long period w/ Android w Samsung and then the OG Pixel
  • I would argue that Google doesn't need WearOS but could use a version of Fuschia instead. I and many others I know have had an Apple Watch for a number of years and only use the core functionality: timekeeping, Siri, Apple Pay and Fitness. The Apple Watch app ecosystem is a drying-lake at this point because users don't want to buy apps and devs can't make money off free watch apps devoid of ads or IAP. Nobody with an Apple Watch misses 3rd party watch faces because the majority of them based on my experience with Wear and Gear is that they are crap. Apple users want to use the Apple faces because they are part of the brand experience. They want others to know they have an Apple Watch and so use recognisable faces. Despite the functionality any smartwatch is still an item of jewelery or clothing and is partially worn for fashion purposes. So really all Google needs to do is build a smartwatch that focusses on equalling or beating Apple in those select few areas. Timekeeping isn't hard so long as you can set multiple timers. Google Assistant is much better than Siri for pretty much everything. Google Pay works as well as Apple Pay. Fitness? They brought Fitbit for a reason. Rather than opening it to 3rd parties to build apps nobody uses all they really have to do is liase with a few select companies like Spotify or Strava to build that functionality right in. Google could also liase with Apple to build an open source method of communicating with gym equipment.
  • Google doesn't even know what they are doing next week. You expect them to come out with a decent watch os?
    Unified approach from google/MS was lost a long time ago. Their business models are: throw something see if it sticks without updating, if not abandon it then officially discontinue it 2 years later.
  • I think wearos is in the worst state it has ever been in