I'm not holding my breath for a Google Pixel Watch in 2021, but man, I'd love to see this rumored smartwatch in the wild. Though I like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, I want to use the new Wear OS in a way that's untethered from Samsung smartphones. Who is more ideal to make the hardware than the company that made the software?
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 isn't just Wear OS. It's combined with Samsung's own One UI, maintaining a few familiar aspects of the forsaken Tizen platform. In particular, it holds onto Samsung Health for activity tracking and wellness data. And that could be the key feature Google undermines when it releases a smartwatch of its own. And that undermining could happen in 2022 as a new report suggests Google is actively developing a smartwatch.
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In the past, most Wear OS watches tracked activity through Google Fit. It works OK, but it's nothing special. Most notably it introduced respiratory rate readings via Pixel phone cameras earlier this year, though no standout updates have come since.
Perhaps that's because Google is pivoting away from Google Fit and towards a more reputable fitness-tracking service in its portfolio. Since the Fitbit acquisition is complete, it could be time to extend the best Fitbit features to other wearables.
Google must know smartwatches and fitness trackers are fast-growing consumer tech categories. I mean, nearly all its competitors make some kind of companion smartwatch for their phones. Pixel smartphones, like the upcoming Google Pixel 6, deserve a dedicated accessory, too.
Pixels are often some of the best Android phones because Google can totally tailor its hardware to its in-house built software. The latest Pixel lineup is expected to deliver a polished version of Android 12 with Material You.
It seems like Google should apply this logic to challenge the best smartwatches on the market, no? Sure, the Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa 3 are technically under the Google's domain. But the company can't shy away from leveraging Fitbit's renowned fitness tracking features in a wearable of its own for much longer.
A few Pixel Watch features Google could easily borrow from Fitbit include workout tracking, sleep tracking and stress tracking. Adopting advanced health sensors such as ECG or EDA aren't as necessary as long as the Pixel Watch can master the basics. Maybe early Pixel Watch users would earn access to Fitbit Premium, too.
In my Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 workout test, I liked watch's activity tracking tools. But sleep tracking and stress tracking performed so-so, and I have ongoing concerns about body composition analysis. Samsung Health simply doesn't strut the same sophistication as Fitbit.
If the Pixel Watch is real, it should combine everyone's favorite Google apps with Fitbit's health and wellness suite, making for the ultimate Wear OS smartwatch. I'm not saying that like it's a done deal. In fact, there's practically nothing we know about the smartwatch beyond bits and pieces of rumors.
That's why I'm not optimistic the Pixel Watch will arrive at the Pixel Fall Launch Event. Have you seen the amount of Google Pixel 6 leaks? We would've heard something substantial about the Pixel Watch by this point — just days away from the keynote — if it was due to arrive.
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Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.