At its I/O developer event on Wednesday, Google announced it would be releasing its own smartwatch, called Pixel Watch, this autumn. Until now, Google provided the operating systems for smartwatches, but never the watches themselves.
The Pixel Watch is built “inside and out” by Google, as Rick Osterloh, the company’s senior vice president of devices and services, said during the keynote. It’s also the first Google product to fully embody the technology the company purchased when it acquired fitness tracking pioneer Fitbit in a deal that was completed last year.
Design-wise, the Pixel Watch gives off some serious Apple Watch vibes. Its crown and replaceable polyurethane bands look alike. The oblong button next to the crown mimics the Apple design. Recycled stainless steel. The raised crystal dome on the front. Osterloh even used familiar Apple marketing language when introducing the Pixel: “It’s . . . visible, so you can be more present at home, at work, or on the go,” he said. ( This suggests you can quickly turn off unimportant notifications by looking at your wrist – results vary.) Jony Ive couldn’t have said it better.
But any mimicry seems reasonable enough. After all, given the popularity of the Apple Watch, it’s fair to say that consumers have consented to these design features. Why should Google try to reinvent the wheel? And yet, the Pixel separates from the Apple Watch in a very obvious way: it is round.
Then again, if you look at the round shape in the context of wristwatches, rather than smartwatches, it’s not radical at all. Wristwatches through the generations have mostly been round, since the days of pocket watches. It wasn’t until diodes began to be incorporated into watches that square shapes arrived. Some people may find that a round smartwatch gives off a less “technical” look than the “rounded square” shape of the Apple Watch.
The Pixel Watch contains Google’s Assistant, which you can ask for information such as map directions. It also contains Google Wallet, so you can make purchases or take public transport with the lift of your wrist, without a phone. But the flagship features of the device seem to focus on fitness tracking. “My favorite thing about [Pixel] Watch is its deep integration with Fitbit,” Osterloh said.
Here, Google may have learned a marketing lesson from the market-leading Apple Watch. When Apple started selling its smartwatch in 2015, it described it as a versatile device that served as an extension or remote control for the iPhone. Sales were slow at first. When the company started thinking and talking about the watch as a health and fitness device, it connected with consumers and sales grew.
Fitbit has made many fitness trackers, but it has also developed comprehensive back-end software for tracking, sharing, and socializing around a wide range of health and fitness metrics (counting steps is just the beginning). The Pixel Watch tracks continuous heart rate, active zone minutes, exercise stats and progress against fitness goals, as well as some sleep quality metrics, and probably other things Google doesn’t. haven’t spoken yet. (Osterloh said his company will provide more information on the Pixel Watch in the months leading up to launch.)
A better Apple alternative
But why would Google manufacture its own watch when it will be competing with its partners’ Android watches?
Google launched its Android Wear operating system for wearables in 2014, hoping partners like Samsung, Motorola, and HTC would go ahead and make Wear-powered smartwatches (it’s now called Wear). BONE). But the Android smartwatch market was tepid from the start.
“They want there to be storefront devices that are examples of the best experience/implementation in the hopes that it will drive the ecosystem,” says Ben Bajarin, principal analyst at the market research firm. Creative Strategies, in a message to fast company Wednesday.
“It’s probably even more important in the smartwatch space, where their partners have struggled to gain traction,” Bajarin says. “Google needed to do this to help launch broader support for its WearOS platform and it makes sense to do something specific to Pixel and the Pixel hardware ecosystem, which is clearly expanding.”
Enlargement indeed. Besides the Pixel Watch, Google announced a new pair of headphones called Pixel Buds Proas well as a new smartphone called the Pixel 6a. Since it will be important for the Pixel Watch to integrate and interact easily with these and other Google hardware devices, the Android team has announced a number of improvements this will allow Google devices to pair and share content with each other more easily and securely.