The watch has a round domed shape and runs Google’s Wear OS smartwatch software, as well as certain Fitbit health-tracking functions. Google did not provide pricing but stated that it will be a premium product.
According to Counterpoint Research, the Pixel Watch is Google’s first big entry into the smartwatch market, which is expected to expand by 24% in 2021. This is a new market for Google. Apple and Samsung are market leaders who have been selling smartwatches for years. The business sees its new smartwatch as critical to expanding its Pixel brand into a whole ecosystem of products akin to those offered by Apple and Samsung, which includes smartphones, tablets, wireless earphones, and smartwatches.
“You have your Pixel phone, your Pixel Buds, and YouTube Music,” said Ramon Llamas, a research director for market research firm International Data Corporation. “And now you see this more than you have in previous years, a lot clearer head-on competitor to Apple.”
The news comes about a year after Google completed its acquisition of Fitbit in January 2021. According to Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of devices and services, while the Fitbit team is driving the development of the Pixel Watch, Google has no plans to integrate the two product lines.
The Pixel Watch and Fitbit’s device lineup would instead complement one another, according to James Park, the founder of Fitbit and now the head of Google’s wearables division. The Pixel Watch is a good choice for people who want more traditional smartwatch capabilities like LTE support and health tracking, while the Fitbit Charge is better for people who worry more about fitness and battery life.
“The beautiful thing about merging Pixel and Fitbit is that we’re able to provide these diverse devices collectively,” Park said ahead of Google I/O in an exclusive interview with CNET’s Scott Stein. “People have the freedom to select what is best for them.”
The Pixel Watch will support Fitbit features like Active Zone Minutes, which measure the amount of time spent in different heart rate zones during exercise. The Pixel Watch, like many other smartwatches today, will track sleep and heart rate.
Fitbit functionality is expected to be expanded in the future. “The Pixel Watch will have the most advanced health sensors over time,” Park said. “And we’ll be picky about how all of those features appear across the board.”
Fitbit’s products, unlike the Pixel Watch, are compatible with both Android and iPhones. Park stated that the business has no intentions to stop supporting iOS users on Fitbit products. “It’s critical for the Fitbit lineup,” he said.
The Pixel Watch will include popular Google apps like Maps, Wallet, and Google Assistant, as well as updated software that should feel “fluid” and “simple to operate,” according to the firm. The watch also features changeable bands and a tactile crown akin to the Apple Watch.
According to Tuong Nguyen, a senior principal analyst at market research firm Gartner, launching a new hardware product like the Pixel Watch isn’t always about selling the most units. It’s all about encouraging people to use Google’s apps and services and giving them a bigger role in our lives. Apple has had success with this method.
“The hardware acts as a delivery mechanism,” Nguyen said. “And we should focus more on what it can do, at least in the short to medium term.”
Pricing, availability, feature features, battery life, and other technical specifics like the watch’s CPU, health sensors, or display type were not announced. These questions will most likely be answered in the fall, closer to the time when the watch will be released.
Because of its ownership of Fitbit and its Wear OS software platform, which powers watches from Fossil and Samsung, Google already has some influence in the smartwatch business. Once the Pixel Watch is released, Google will be both a partner and a rival to these smartwatch manufacturers. Google will be able to show what the perfect Android watch experience should be, just like its Pixel phones do for Android smartphones, by releasing its first smartwatch.
Although the corporation is best recognized for its ubiquitous search engine and digital services, it has now made a stronger push into hardware. The Pixel Watch will join Google’s current phone, and smart home device lineup, which includes thermostats and connected speakers, as well as the Pixelbook Go laptop and Chromecast streaming devices. It’s also one of several new hardware items in the works for Google. On Wednesday, Google introduced the Pixel 6A and Pixel Buds Pro, both of which will be available in July. It also teased the Pixel 7, which will be released this fall, as well as a new Pixel tablet in 2023.