We might see Wear OS shown off to its full potential when the long-rumored Google Pixel Watch finally launches, but it doesn't look like it will be on our wrists anytime soon.
Rumors alleged that Google was hard at work making its own smartwatch to demonstrate the true potential of Wear OS just like the company had done releasing the Google Pixel phones to show off Android, but so far, we haven't seen a Google-branded wearable.
One report in mid-2018 from reliable Twitter leaker @Evleaks says he had information from a trusted source that a Google Pixel Watch was in development. His source said it would be announced alongside the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, but that - perhaps obviously - didn't happen either.
Yet rumors and evidence of the Google Pixel Watch refuse to disappear, so it could well be in the works.
Below we're going to break down everything we know so far about the new watch, including our thoughts on whether it will ever actually happen. Then, further down, we've put together a list of the features we'd like from the first flagship Google watch.
Update: Google has reportedly ordered processors from Samsung that sound ideal for a wearable, suggesting the Pixel Watch could be on the way.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The first flagship watch designed by Google
- What will it cost? Probably a high-end cost, but no specifics yet
- When is it out? No idea
Google Pixel Watch release date and price
An exact release date for the rumored Google Pixel Watch isn't clear. The latest rumor we heard claimed October 15 2020 at the Pixel 4 launch, but that didn't happen.
Prior to that, our first rumor of a release date came in a tweet from noted leaker Evleaks claiming a "reliable source" said it would be announced alongside the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL back in 2018.
Besides the Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, and second-gen Pixel Buds, a reliable source tells me -- with high confidence -- that Google's fall hardware event will also introduce a Pixel-branded watch. Have a great summer!May 10, 2018
Google itself then confirmed there wouldn't be a Pixel Watch in 2018. So could that mean we'll see one in a later year? Maybe, but nothing is guaranteed.
Perhaps the greatest recent evidence of a Pixel Watch is the fact that Google is buying Fitbit - which could see the latter company's wearable skills put towards Google smartwatch hardware, but that deal hasn't quite closed yet, and therefore a smartwatch based on Fitbit's tech is probably unlikely to land in the near future.
We've also heard that Google has reportedly ordered processors from Samsung (according to ETNews) which would be capable of detecting body movements. There's no guarantee that these are for a smartwatch (they could be for a Pixel phone) but a wearable would be an obvious fit.
That, then, is strong evidence that some form of Pixel Watch is in the works, though it seems that Samsung still needs to design these processors (as of August 2020) and as Wareable notes, that would mean they won't likely ship in a watch for quite a while yet.
Prior to all that though a report from WinFuture about three versions of the Google Pixel Watch said the device has reached its second level of design verification, which is a test to see if the device would be easy to mass produce.
That suggests the watch design will be final enough to be put onto the production line in the near future - though this report is old now, so it might be inaccurate.
However, a codename has also been spotted for a device called medaka. A medaka is a tiny fish (Google always uses codenames of sea creatures for its products) and the device is said to not sport a notch so some have taken this to mean it's the Pixel Watch.
Here are the upcoming Google device codenames #leaked:#salmon and #medaka.None of the devices has a notch and medaka is most probably the rumored Pixel Watch. More info should surface soon.January 25, 2019
That's a fairly old leak too though. At the time of writing (January 2021) we'd say it's likely Google is or was working on a smartwatch, but that we're probably not likely to see one launch any time soon.
As for price, we don't currently have any idea how much this watch will cost. Considering the Pixel range is usually high-end products with generally flagship level prices, we'd expect that but we don't currently have any evidence supporting it.
Google Pixel Watch news and rumors
In terms of spec, there isn't much known about the Google Pixel Watch. We can expect this to be a high-end device that uses the latest technology in smartwatches, but what that will be won't be known until we hear leaks of the product.
The latest news at the time of writing is a Google patent, which details a gesture control system that would allow a smartwatch to detect movements you make with your arm, wrist or fingers.
For example, you could make a fist to launch Google Assistant and open the fist to dismiss it. These gestures would be done on the arm or hand that the watch is worn on. However, patents aren't always used, so there's no guarantee we'll see this.
There could also be a big focus on fitness, both because Google is buying Fitbit, and because Google sent out a survey asking people about features they'd like to see in Wear OS, and those features included things like SPO2 (oxygenation) tracking, sleep apnea detection, sleep analysis, heartbeat alerts, recovery time monitoring, stress tracking, pairing for medical devices and gym equipment, rep detection, and calorie tracking.
Of course, it's unlikely they would all be added, but some may well be, and it shows that Google is thinking about health and fitness.
As for specs, the Pixel Watch is likely to run Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset that will mean improvements to battery life and more power for running your favorite apps on your wrist. That said, with any luck it will use something even newer, as the 3100 is getting on a bit now and a successor is overdue.
One rumored feature was something codenamed 'Blackghost'. It was thought to be be a power management integrated circuit built into the chipset itself that will allow the watch to listen out for voice commands at all times without draining the battery.
That isn't a feature on the Snapdragon Wear 3100, but it may be Google has found a way to make it an exclusive feature for the Pixel Watch when it launches - or that the watch will indeed use a newer chipset.
If so, expect to be able to ask Google Assistant questions without either draining your smartwatch after a few hours or having to press a button beforehand.
Another report - this time from WinFuture - has suggested there may actually be three versions of the Pixel Watch in development. The website has heard word of devices with code names Ling, Triton and Sardine all in development at Google HQ.
Exactly what the differences for the devices would be are currently unclear. It may mean we'll see three variants of the Pixel Watch. That same report also suggested at least one version of the watch will come with 1GB of RAM.
This report could mean there will be one watch in the range with LTE or another that's designed to be more focused on fitness, but so far we've yet to hear any rumors of what those different versions will be. This report is also quite old now, so it may no longer be relevant.
What we want to see
Below we've put together a list of the things we want to see from the Google Pixel Watch.
1. Rotating crown or bezel
Before the switch to Wear OS, Android Wear 2.0 put a big focus on how the design had been reworked to play well with rotating bezels and crowns, but then we haven't seen many watches embrace that.
Why not use it for the Google Pixel Watch? Those features may be far in Google's rear view mirror as the Wear OS updates take precedent, but we'd love to see an innovative way of interacting with the watch such as a rotating crown or bezel.
2. In-display fingerprint scanner
If Google really wants to put the Pixel Watch on the map, adding an in-display fingerprint scanner would go a long way to doing that. Currently Wear OS watches (and the Apple Watch) allow you to secure them with a PIN code – but that’s not the most secure form of protection available.
With an in-display fingerprint scanner, the secure biometric technology would fit seamlessly into the wearable without disrupting the visual appeal of the watch. It would also allow you to approve purchases over the current contactless limit (assuming the Pixel Watch comes with NFC).
There are a couple of potential negatives here though. Firstly, the addition of this fledgling technology could increase the thickness of the watch – and no one wants an overly chunky wearable – but secondly it’ll also likely push the price tag way up.
If Google can overcome these two things though, you can sign us up for a Pixel Watch right now.
We’re used to smartwatches coming with a level of dust and water resistance, but few carry an IP certification high enough to ensure their survival when we cannonball into the local pool.
A fully swim-proof Google Pixel Watch would not only allow you to keep the wearable on in the bath, but also allow you to track workouts in the pool without fear of malfunction.
4. Three day battery life
This is a simple one, but we want the Google Pixel Watch to last as long as it can. Imagine a fully fledged smartwatch that doesn't need charging after two days of intensive usage.
Wear OS is integrating a useful enhanced battery saver mode that should give you a lot more time with your smartwatch, but it'll limit the amount of features you can use when it's on.
Clearly Google wants to improve how long your watch will last from one charge, but we'd love to see a big battery inside the watch and well optimized software that offers the best battery for a smartwatch on the market right now.
5. NFC payments
Another simple one here, but quite a few Wear OS watches don't come with NFC built in so you aren't able to use Google Pay features on your wrist. That's a frustration for a lot of people, so we're hoping Google will include an NFC chip inside the watch.
That'll especially be useful when you're out for a run and you need to buy a bottle of water, but you've left your wallet at home.
6. Best in class fitness
Imagine if Google can include all of the latest tracking tech including accurate GPS, LTE so we can listen to music on the go as well as a top of the range heart rate tracker.
We want to be able to strap the Google Pixel Watch to our wrist and head out for any type of exercise and know we'll be tracked accurately and get as much fitness stats as we possibly can.
7. High-end watch design
This one is a given, but we want to see a watch that you're not embarrassed to wear on your wrist. Not every Wear OS watch is a gorgeous creation, so we wish Google will be able to offer a slimmer option than most other manufacturers that uses high-end materials and feels like a proper timepiece you're excited to wear.
If you're going to be spending a fair amount of money on a new watch, you'll want it to look great on your wrist so this is one of the most important things we want to see on the new wearable.
Main image: Misfit Vapor running new Wear OS
Image Credit: TechRadar