Google Pixel Watch just got huge health and fitness upgrades to challenge Apple Watch

Google Pixel Watch
(Image credit: Future)

The Google Pixel Watch just became a more competitive health and fitness tracker. In Google’s latest Pixel feature drop rolling out today (June 13), the company’s smartwatch gains more advanced wellness features including blood oxygen (SpO2) tracking, heart rate alerts and auto-pause for workouts.

While Fitbit already drove a well-rounded Google Pixel Watch fitness tracking experience, the device lacked some key features you’d find in many of the best smartwatches. Between an inactive blood oxygen sensor and limited heart rate sensor functionality, we expected these kinds of updates for the Pixel Watch to arrive eventually. 

When I tested the Google Pixel Watch at launch, the heart rate sensor impressed me with quick and accurate readings throughout a number of activities. But now, high and low heart rate alerts offer a more proactive warning when your heart rate is outside of your normal range. This is a feature I’ve seen result in an Apple Watch Series 8 user (and close friend) getting diagnosed for long-term Covid-19 effects, so it’s good to know Pixel Watch users could benefit from similar intervention.

Another health diagnosis can now come from the Pixel Watch’s SpO2 sensor, too. With this feature roll-out, the Pixel Watch can finally monitor your nighttime oxygen saturation and detect unusual changes. Depending on what the Pixel Watch picks up on, overnight SpO2 readings may detect sleep conditions such as sleep apnea. If you wonder why you wake up feeling less rested than you’d like, paying attention to your nighttime blood oxygen readings might provide some insight. 

The final health feature coming to the Pixel Watch as part of the latest feature drop has less to do with your overall health, but still introduces a much-needed convenience for exercise. Auto-pause for Apple Watch is one of my favorite lesser-known features, and now it’s coming to the Pixel Watch. 

Auto-pause will automatically pause your run, walk or bike exercise when you stop moving. Perhaps you’re at a stoplight, or ran into a friend on the street, or hopped off your bike to take some pictures at a scenic spot — the Pixel Watch will pause your activity so you’re not mis-credited for your pace. When you get moving again, the workout will automatically resume.

Analysis: A good omen for the Pixel Watch

Though we’ve already started to turn our attention to Google Pixel Watch 2 rumors, feature drops like this one are a good sign for current Pixel Watch users. It gives Google a chance to prove that it will continue to improve the watch experience, similarly to how Apple releases annual software overhauls, with the latest being watchOS 10

On that note, Google has confirmed Wear OS 4, and revealed some of its compelling upgrades. We're just waiting to find out when the software update will roll out to current devices. All we know is that Wear OS 4 should release before the end of this year — TBD on which Wear OS 3 devices will be eligible to upgrade, though. 

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Kate Kozuch

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.