What to expect
While Google has been making its own smartphones for years under the Pixel brand (which has subsequently expanded to include other peripherals such as wireless headphones), the firm has never made its own smartwatch, despite having a companion wearable platform for Android since 2014.
Google’s Pixel hardware group is working on the watch (codenamed “Rohan”) apart from Fitbit, which Google purchased for $2.1 billion earlier this year.
The watch will have basic fitness monitoring functions like step counting and a heart rate monitor, and Google is said to be working on a Fitbit integration within Wear OS (codenamed “Nightlight”) for when it arrives.
With Wear OS 3, Google is now reinventing its wristwatch platform for the third time. Unlike previous versions of Wear OS (or Android Wear), Wear OS 3 was created in collaboration with Samsung, combining Google’s Tizen platform with its own. However, Wear OS 3 is now only available on Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4, which runs a substantially customized version of the new operating system that foregoes most of Google’s services and apps in favor of Samsung’s own.
According to a 2019 report, Google almost had a “Pixel Watch” in the past. The LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style, which were released in 2017, were supposed to be sold under the Pixel brand, but Google hardware executive Rick Osterloh rejected the idea because they “didn’t look like what belonged in the Pixel family.” When they first came out, neither device wowed anyone.
However, the announcement of a Google-built smartwatch isn’t entirely unexpected. An in-house Wear OS wearable was already on the horizon, and it makes absolute sense for this venture to be taking place at this point in time.
According to a survey by the Consumer Technology Association, the market for wearables is booming, with revenue expected to reach $487 billion this year.
Apple, which is still the market leader in smartwatches, increased its Watch options in September, focusing on cyclists. Biker-friendly features include the ability to track workouts and detect falls. However, there are other competitors in the wearables market — Amazon announced the Halo View in September, which monitors activity, sleep, and blood oxygen levels.
Given all of this, it seems fitting for Google to be launching its own smartwatch in the coming year.
In other news, Google is designing computer chips in under 6 hours.
Photo via Cherlynn Low/Engadget