After years of rumors and false starts, it seems we are close to finally, finally sees a Pixel Watch running Wear OS.
We’ve been hearing Pixel Watch rumors for the last few months, but what made me think of all this was a recent leak from Evan Blass. Earlier today, Blass wrote a screenshot on Twitter by an interactive tutorial teasing a “Pixel Rohan” running Wear OS 3.1. Blass also subtitled the tweet, saying “It’s not long now” – a nod to the very likely possibility that Google will tease the Pixel Watch at next month’s Google I / O.
Nothing about this is incredibly surprising if you have been paying attention. It was always likely that the Pixel Watch would run Wear OS, although for a little while there was speculation that Google might opt for a digital-analog hybrid. However, this relatively insignificant leak confirms that 2022 will be a watershed year for Google’s ambitions for wearables.
Basically, this is the culmination of at least three years of Google laying the groundwork for a true Apple Watch competitor. In early 2019, Google paid out $ 40 million to buy Fossil’s smartwatch technology and part of the company’s research and development team. Fossil has long been one of Google’s most prominent wearable partners, and at the time, Google said the move was a sign of the company’s commitment to wearables. Later that year, Google underlined a renewed focus on “ambient computing” at its Made by Google event, before ending 2019 by breaking down $ 2.1 billion for Fitbit.
Not much happened on Google’s laptop front in 2020. Fitbit continued to release products under the Fitbit brand – even though its smartwatches did get Google Assistant. Likewise, Wear OS continued to see incremental updates. However, Google slammed the door wide open in 2021 at I / O, announcing that it was collaborating with Samsung to create a new unified version of its long-stagnant Wear OS platform. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series then debuted Wear OS 3 in late 2021.
That brings us to 2022 – the first year that the new Wear OS platform will be available on more than just Samsung smartwatches. Google has said in the past year that existing Wear OS watches from Fossil and Mobvoi will be eligible to upgrade in the second half of this year. Google has also been hinting at future Fitbit integrations for some time now, and Fitbit CEO James Park has also repeatedly stated that a Fitbit Wear OS watch is coming. (Although it’s hard to say when.) Google also recently received FDA approval for passive atrial fibrillation monitoring on Fitbit devices. Given that Google owns Fitbit, it’s not hard to imagine that it will also benefit from Fitbit’s many years of research into advanced healthcare technology features. Qualcomm – whose sleek Snapdragon Wear chipset has also contributed to Wear OS’s battle to catch up with its competitors – is also expected to release a more potent chip sometime this year.
Basically, all the pieces fall into place. Of course, there are still many questions. Will Pixel Watch primarily focus on fitness and wellness, or will it also incorporate more smart features like LTE connectivity? Will this work equally well with all Android phones, or will it prioritize Google’s own Pixel ecosystem? What about iOS? We are unlikely to have these answers until the second half of this year. But one thing is for sure. This is a big year for Google’s portable platform – and shutting it down with a Pixel Watch would be a hell of a way to express yourself.