Google Pixel Watch: why was Google's smartwatch a no-show?

Disappointing smartwatch fans everywhere...

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Google held a big launch event yesterday called ''Made by Google", where the search giant unveiled a plethora of new devices.

Among the new devices we saw two new Google Pixel 3 smartphones, the Pixel Slate tablet, and a new Google Home Hub.

One thing we didn't see was the rumoured Google Pixel Watch, which would have gone head-to-head with the recently released Samsung Galaxy Watch and Apple Watch Series 4.

Let's take a look at what happened to the Pixel Watch.

At the beginning of the year, the Google Pixel Watch seemed like a dead cert. The first news about the Pixel-branded smartwatch came from reliable technology leaker Evan Blass and a “reliable source” of his. Blass tweeted in May:

The Pixel Watch would be the culmination of everything the computing giant has learned since Android Wear launched back in 2014, Google was expected to roll up its sleeves and get stuck into the smartwatch market on its own terms, going watchface-to-watchface with Apple and Samsung.

In the same way the Nexus devices and Pixel phones were used as "reference" devices for the Android platform, and to control the end-to-end user experience, the Pixel Watch would have been the halo Wear OS device.

It sounds like a good idea, right? Especially as many Wear OS manufacturers are lacking in direction, and could use a reference device from Google to point them in the right direction.

Google obviously thought it was a good idea as well, as the smartwatch was clearly in development at the beginning of the year.

We even had internal codenames. As we previously reported at T3, Google used – Ling, Triton and Sardine – suggesting Google was working on three variants of the Pixel Watch. 

Despite the vast number of rumours that Google was planning the release a Pixel Watch at yesterday's event, the company has spoken out to the contrary, saying that it has no plans to launch its own smartwatch this year.

Miles Barr, Google's director of engineering for Wear OS, told Tom's Guide:

“To think of a one-size-fits-all watch, I don’t think we’re there yet,” Barr said. “Our focus is on our partners for now.”

Quite simply, Wear OS, Google's wearable operating system, isn't ready for the Pixel treatment yet.

The Pixel phones are among the best Android phones because they control the end-to-end user experience, pairing the best hardware with the best software.

Even if Google was able to nail the hardware, and make a smartwatch which feel just as premium as the Apple Watch, its clear that Wear OS needs a lot of work to match the premium hardware.

Wear OS is where Google has decided to focus its efforts for now (frequent updates rather than yearly ones), and once the software is sorted then maybe we'll see a Google Pixel Watch.