Update 07/05/19: Could we see the Pixel Watch at Google I/O this evening? Although it's primarily a keynote aimed at software developers, Google has used it to unveil hardware before. It's not out of the realms of possibility, although, it does seem unlikely. What you do you think? Time will tell…
As we speed toward summer the smartwatch market is hotting up like never before.
First, Samsung released the Galaxy Watch Active in February - and Google could enter the fray with its first own-brand smartwatch, the Pixel Watch.
This news comes from reliable technology leaker Evan Blass and a “reliable source” of his. Blass tweeted in May 2018:
Besides the Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, and second-gen Pixel Buds, a reliable source tells me -- with high confidence -- that Google's fall hardware event will also introduce a Pixel-branded watch. Have a great summer!10 May 2018
It may come as a surprise to hear that Google is yet to make its own smartwatch. Instead, the company has provided its Wear OS operating system (previously called Android Wear) to manufacturers like LG, Huawei and Samsung, as well as traditional watchmakers like Tag Heuer.
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Now though, Google wants to roll up its sleeves and get stuck in on its own terms. The Pixel Watch will be the culmination of everything the computing giant has learned since Android Wear launched back in 2014, and go watchface-to-watchface with Apple and Samsung.
Google Pixel Watch video
Google Pixel Watch release date
As we alluded to above, it was initially thought Google would reveal the Pixel Watch at its 'Made by Google' event today, 9th October 2018.
Given the Pixel 2 smartphone (and original Pixel before it) landed at media events in the last two Octobers - and on the 4th both times - it makes sense that the Pixel Watch will share the stage with the Pixel 3.
As for the release date, the Pixel 2 hit shelves on 19 October, just over a fortnight after the launch. Applying this logic to the Pixel Watch and the claimed 9 October launch, we think the watch will be available from 26 October.
Obviously, that didn't happen, with Miles Barr, Google's director of engineering for Wear OS saying, “To think of a one-size-fits-all watch, I don’t think we’re there yet. Our focus is on our partners for now.”
Now, rumours around the smartwatch have started again, so it seems we could see the Pixel Watch this year.
This is backed up by a recent job listing at Google, which showed it's looking for a Vice President of Hardware Engineering for Wearable, and a Wearables Design Manager.
Google Pixel Watch price
As this will be Google’s first own-brand smartwatch, we can’t call upon previous models to estimate the price. What we can do, however, is look at Google’s closest competitors and see how Apple and Samsung charge in the region of £300 to £400 for their smartwatches, depending on the size, LTE support, case material and strap option.
Apple then accelerates up to over £1,000 for its Hermés Watch Editions, but we can’t see Google taking this high-end approach. Instead, we believe the Pixel Watch will land around the £300 mark.
Google Pixel Watch design and hardware
As we have previously reported at T3, leaked codenames - Ling, Triton and Sardine - suggest Google is working on three variants of the Pixel Watch. However, it isn’t yet clear if these refer to different sizes, designs, or if there will be a version with 4G and one with just Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Unlike the limelight-craving Pixel 3 and 3 XL, there have not been any leaks of the Pixel Watch’s design, so predicting what the device will look like is tricky at this stage. If we were to go out on a limb, we would expect Google to mimic the simplistic design of its Pixel phones, with the use of highlight colours as on the Pixel 2’s power button.
A round face is likely, given this is the direction taken by Google’s Wear OS smartwatch operating system. We suspect the Pixel Watch will not use a rotating bezel - like Samsung’s smartwatches do - as Wear OS employs the touchscreen for scrolling instead. Speaking of the touchscreen, a resolution of 360x360 is likely, with the circular display measuring around 1.2 inches in diameter.
Inside, the Pixel Watch is expected to be treated to the new Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, which is being developed under the codename ‘Blackghost’. The main advantage of this platform is its power management abilities, which should mean decent stamina from the battery.
The upside of this could be a display which is always on and showing the time (unlike the Apple Watch), and/or an always-listening Google Assistant, ready to respond when you say “Okay Google” into your wrist. You’ll look just like a spy. Honest.
Finally for the hardware, we hope Google allows regular straps to be fitted to the Pixel Watch, giving buyers the option to tailor the looks to their personal style.
The most recent leak shares the codenames Google is using to develop the Pixel Watch.
Among the codenames is "medaka", a tiny fish, also known as the Japanese Rice Fish.
The suggests Google could be working on a compact smartwatch which could rival the smallest model of Apple Watch.
Google Pixel Watch software and features
It goes without saying that the Pixel Watch will run Google’s own Wear OS operating system, built specifically for smartwatches. This OS is also used by manufacturers like Huawei, LG and Tag Heuer, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Google has some special treats in store for its own watch.
Wear OS works with Android smartphones and iPhones, so we hope this remains the case with the Pixel Watch. It also features the Google Assistant for asking questions, searching online and controlling your smart home, and there are apps like Uber, Gmail and Google Maps.
Google Pay should also be included, letting you pay in shops by tapping your watch on the card reader.
Google Pixel Watch health and fitness
Health and fitness tracking will likely be a major feature of the Pixel Watch - especially since Google is reportedly working on an all-new fitness assistant called Google Coach.
According to Android Police, the new health and wellbeing app is said to recommend workout routines, track progress and recommend alternatives if you fall short of your goals. Data gathered while you exercise will be used by Google Coach to inform future suggestions, the report claims.
As well as exercise, Google Coach will reportedly monitor your nutrition, recommending healthy meals based on your location and daily routines, or generate weekly shopping lists and meal plans for home cooking - even tapping into your calendar to work out how many meals you need each week.
Google’s focus on our ‘digital wellbeing’ in Android 9 Pie will likely spill over into the Pixel Watch, too.
On Android this amounts to the phone letting you know when you’ve viewed enough YouTube videos for one day, then turning the screen to greyscale when it’s time to go to bed. We expect to see the Pixel Watch take a similarly stern approach to device addiction - but with you setting your own limits, of course. Google doesn’t have total control over us just yet.
Given the emphasis on health, the Pixel Watch is very likely to include a heart rate monitor, plus accelerometers, GPS, a barometer and an altimeter for accurately tracking walking, running, and other forms of exercise.