Google's Pixel Watch looks like it could be a serious rival to the Apple Watch this year: it's genuinely good-looking and from what I've seen so far Google has nailed the premium look that makes the Apple Watch so desirable. Provided the build quality is good – something that isn't always guaranteed with Google kit – and the promised updates to Wear OS are as nifty as Google says, this could be one of the very best smartwatches in 2022.
But the most interesting thing about the Pixel Watch barely got a mention during the Google I/O keynote. That game-changer? That Google is bringing across "industry-leading health and fitness experiences" from Fitbit, which is now part of the Google empire.
Basically, Google Watch is going to have all the benefits of the best Fitbit fitness trackers, but also full access to Google's Wear OS, meaning no proprietary Fitbit apps like Fitbit Pay and, instead, Google's better and more widely used own, like Google Pay.
What I'm hoping to see from Fitbit in the Pixel Watch
There wasn't much detail in the keynote other than the promise of "deep integration", but Fitbit founder James Park talked to CNET about the Pixel Watch in some detail yesterday. "The Pixel Watch is going to be part of a family of devices from Google and Fitbit that fits into different ranges of prices. So you can have super premium devices under the Pixel brand," he says, adding that there will continue to be stand-alone Fitbit trackers too.
Park is understandably guarded because this isn't a shipping product yet, but he did say that "over time, we want to bring as much of the benefits of Fitbit to Pixel as we can... continuous heart rate tracking and sleep tracking [is] really important initially to the Pixel Watches. This is not a one and done: We're going to continue improving the software over time."
Park's description of the strategy is interesting: "I see Pixel Watch as being for the user who wants LTE and all the advanced health and fitness features, but there's always going to be people for whom some of that stuff isn't necessarily important. For them, a tracker with the most advanced health capabilities is going to be the device that they want, which is our Charge device". That suggests that the Pixel Watch may be ahead on the software front and integrating tightly with Google's various services, but that Fitbits such as the Charge will focus on having the most advanced sensors.
We're still some months away from the Pixel Watch launch, but if you're a long-time Fitbit user thinking of replacing your current tracker it might be wise to wait until we have more detail on just how much Fitbit there is in this Pixel. It could well turn out to be the Fitbit you've always wanted.