After Google I/O ’22, we now know that the highly anticipated Google-made smartwatch is officially on its way. The Pixel Watch is real.
Google has had some success with its Pixel smartphones, and it also makes several other pieces of technology, such as the Nest Hub 2 smart display and the Pixelbook Go laptop.
So why has the company never made its own brand of smartwatch until now? It’s a great question with no easy answer, especially since so many Apple Watch rivals in the market run on the company’s Wear OS platform.
Codenamed “Rohan” in a US trademark filing before it officially broke cover, Google has finally acknowledged the existence of the Pixel Watch, but there’s so much more to learn.
When will the Pixel Watch be launched?
It feels like we’ve waited forever for the Pixel Watch to receive official recognition, with Google first confirming it was working on a watch in 2018 and rumors of such a device stretching back even further.
In his 2018 interview with Tom’s Guide, Miles Barr, technical director of Wear OS at Google, stated that it wasn’t quite ready for primetime yet. “To come up with a one-size-fits-all watch, I think we’re not there yet. For now, our focus is on our partners.”
Fast-forward to the opening keynote of Google’s 2022 I/O developer conference on May 11, and the company finally acknowledged that the Pixel Watch was coming and promised more details about its functionality and availability, due sometime this fall.
Say hello to Google Pixel Watch, the first watch made inside and out by Google. Built on Wear OS, it offers the best of Google, plus Fitbit health and fitness experiences – all on your wrist. Coming this fall #GoogleIO pic.twitter.com/GQmfWKAgSY
— Google (@Google) May 11, 2022
One piece of hardware that Google launched alongside the watch’s tease at I/O ’22 was the Pixel 6a, adding weight to another Prosser prediction that the watch will go on sale in October, alongside the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro smartphones (also in line with Google’s fall promise).
Google even gave a preview of the upcoming Pixel Tablet, which no one expected.
How much does the Pixel Watch cost?
Despite many leaks about the device, no price has been mentioned for the Pixel Watch.
Still, we can guess a bit, as devices like the latest Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 go for £249 / US$249 to £309 / $329 for a larger model with 4G. We wouldn’t be surprised if the Pixel Watch is in the same ballpark.
It should at least be lower than a rumored sporty model called the Pixel Watch Fit, which has a
leaker claims will cost about $400.
What features does the Pixel Watch support?
As part of the I/O announcement, Google showed official press photos of the watch, showing previously leaked images from sources like Jon Prosserwhich confirms the modern, round design.
While we don’t yet know any details like case dimensions, internal hardware, or the watch’s full feature set in any official capacity, Google’s I/O tease offered some insight into its shape, with what the company describes as a “bold round , domed design’ along with a ‘tactile crown’.
The case is reportedly made from recycled stainless steel and appears to support proprietary silicone straps that fasten by twisting on the body.
9to5Google has reported that Google is working on several tire styles in addition to the silicone previewed. The sources of the publication say that a Milanese band, link bracelet, two leather bands, cloth bands and stretch bands are also being tested, but not all of them will necessarily make it to the market.
How straps attach to the Pixel Watch
As for the software experience, we already know that the Pixel Watch will run the company’s own Wear OS, which is believed to be version 3.0 when it launches; although notorious leaker
Evan Blass had previously tweeted a screenshot of what appears to be some sort of online manual for the watch, with “Wear OS 3.1” selected from a drop-down menu.
In Google’s own words (again from I/O 2022), the company also says the Pixel Watch will include “Fitbit’s leading health and fitness tools – right on your wrist.”
You can see a Fitbit widget on the main dial of the Pixel Watch
While that’s a rather ambiguous comment in itself, the fact that Fitbit (whose purchase Google completed in early 2021) will now operate as a Wear OS-compatible experience, separate from the brand’s own activity trackers, marks a major shift in how users to experience Fitbit’s technology and open it up to a much wider audience.
Back to the rumours, leaks and speculations, the back appears to have a heart rate monitor, which is believed to rely on existing Fitbit-based tech, and the smartwatch’s body looks a little thicker than we initially expected.
According to Android Police, the Pixel Watch is included in the backend inventory system of a US network under the codename “Rohan”. It shows that it comes with 32 GB of storage and it comes in gray, black and gold.
Three models, the GWT9R, GBZ4S and GQF4C, have passed Bluetooth SIG certification, which could very well be for the three colors mentioned above.
We also have details on the Pixel Watch’s battery size via 9to5Google. The site says it will be 300 mAh (larger than the Galaxy Watch 4’s 247 mAh battery). This suggests it should last around 24 hours and the site also says it will be offered with LTE cellular connectivity.
In addition to the Prosser leaks below, 9to5Google has some details about the Pixel Watch. The site saw updates to a Google app with mentions of “PIXEL_EXPERIENCE_WATCH”.
This is similar to a feature tag Google uses for Android phones, suggesting that the watch will have exclusive features. This may include on-device processing, while images from the Wear OS 3 emulator show what this could look like.
9to5Google also reported a nugget found in an APK that refers to the Pixel Watch by name in conjunction with Android’s existing Smart Unlock feature. At this point, it can keep your phone unlocked depending on its location, but the screenshot below shows an unlocked Pixel Watch near your phone unlocking it, bypassing the usual biometrics:
Separately, the publication also received notice about the chipset that is expected to run the show and it is not the 5nm Exynos W920 that powers Samsung’s current Galaxy Watch 4 line, although it is Samsung silicon.
According to 9to5Google, from 2018 the Pixel Watch will actually run on the much older 10nm Exynos 9110; handy, a chip that launched around the time Google first confirmed it worked on a smartwatch. It’s the same chip that powered the original Samsung Galaxy Watch.
While the chipset itself is remarkably less efficient than the W920, in the case of the Pixel Watch, Max Weinbach claims the 9110 will reportedly be accompanied by an ARM M33 low-power co-processor from NXP; tasks when the watch is not in immediate use, such as “continuous heart rate monitoring and sleep for health and wellness, faster response of tilt to wake, step count, alarms, timers, and haptics.”
Coupled with a reported 1.5GB of RAM, it will also ease some of the pressure on the main chipset when in use; pound for pound making the Pixel Watch more energy efficient than the comparable 2018 Galaxy Watch, at least in theory.
A patent surfaced through LetsGoDigital, albeit from 2020, suggests the Pixel Watch may come with gesture control. It’s something we’ve seen from Google before, on devices like the Pixel 4, but it wasn’t great, so it’ll be interesting to see how it’s implemented in the Pixel Watch if Google follows the idea.
While Prosser didn’t have any details on the specs, his source claimed there are about 20 different tire options to choose from. As for software, Prosser previously stated that official marketing includes phrases like “Your world at a glance”, “Your health at a glance” and “Your agenda at a glance”.
As mentioned, we’ll already have to wait for more detailed specs, such as screen size, resolution, and what connectivity the Pixel Watch will offer, but Prosser says “it might be reasonable to assume this may be part of Google’s internal silicon. ”
You can watch the full video with animated renders here:
Since the above video, Prosser has posted a new video with some more details. It is mainly a response to the Insider ‘exclusive’ that actually only contains information that Prosser had already brought to light.
At the end of March 2022, we summarized the main rumors and speculated about what the final product might bring in Episode 108 of Fast Charge, our weekly podcast. The Pixel Watch review starts around 47 minutes:
Check out our guide to the Pixel 7 series for news on the phones that the Pixel Watch will launch.
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