Google Pixel Watch 3 may ditch all the buttons — what we know

Google Pixel Watch 2
(Image credit: Future)

The Google Pixel Watch 3 could be controlled by gestures instead of buttons if a newly-founded Google patent (via Wareable) comes to fruition in time.

Detailed within the "Gesture recognition on watch bezel using strain gauges" patent is a concept for a watch operated by swipes, presses and squeezes on the casing rather than a combination of the display and external buttons. The benefit of these controls, the patent explains, is that they stop the user from having to touch the screen as much, which means blocking out parts of the display with whichever finger you're using for navigation.

Pixel Watch patent

(Image credit: USPTO)

It goes on to note that external controls like buttons, crowns and bezels are practical, but can cause manufacturing complications, make waterproofing the watch more difficult, or just spoil the look of the device. However, we can't help but wonder how easy it is to repair or replace one of these internal sensors if it's broken, compared to the relative ease of swapping out a broken button.

This idea reminds us of older Google phones like the Pixel 4, where you could squeeze the phone's sides to activate Google Assistant. This patent sounds more complicated, but the fact that there's precedent here makes this idea feel more likely to appear on a future Google Pixel Watch.

Pixel Watch patent

(Image credit: USPTO)

The Pixel Watch needs a big update like this

We like the latest Google smartwatch, the Pixel Watch 2, but it is, unfortunately, very similar to the original Pixel Watch from 2022, with no big external changes. Moving to a buttonless design instead of one based on a scrolling crown would certainly be a big upgrade, but we'd rather Google address other criticisms of the Pixel Watch, such as it offering only one size, and not featuring wireless charging.

Patents don't guarantee a company's going to use an idea, but it can be an indicator of a future direction. Perhaps it's too late to add this to the Pixel Watch 3, which we assume will arrive in fall of 2024, but a future Pixel Watch will be able to use the idea from this patent and gain a higher spot on our best smartwatch rankings as a result.

More from Tom's Guide

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.