A Pixel Watch is really happening, and Fitbit loyalists might really like it


Google announced its the long-awaited Pixel watch Wednesday, continuing the tech giant’s expansion into hardware. The company teased its first smartwatch during its Google I/O conference, but plans to reveal more details closer to the device’s fall launch.

The watch has a circular domed design, runs on Google’s Wear OS smartwatch software, and includes some Fitbit health tracking features. Google didn’t announce pricing but said it would be sold as a premium product.

The Pixel Watch represents Google’s first major step into the smartwatch market, which saw shipments increase 24% in 2021, according to Counterpoint Research. Google is a newcomer to this market. rivals like Apple and Samsung dominate the market and have been selling smartwatches for years. The company sees its new smartwatch as key to integrating its Pixel brand into a comprehensive ecosystem of products similar to those offered by Apple and Samsung, spanning phones, tablets, wireless headphones and smartwatches.


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What to expect from Pixel Watch, Google’s new Fitbit…


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“You have yours Pixel Phoneyou have yours Pixel Budsyou have YouTube Music,” said Ramon Llamas, research director for International Data Corporation, a market research firm. “And now suddenly you’re seeing that more than we’ve seen in previous years, a much clearer front-end competitor to Apple.”

The announcement comes more than a year after Takeover of Fitbit by Google closed in January 2021. While the Fitbit team is leading development of the Pixel Watch, Google has no plans to merge the two product lines, according to Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of devices and services.

The Pixel Watch and Fitbit lineup of devices will instead complement each other, explains James Park, the founder of Fitbit who now leads the wearables division of Google. Those who want more traditional smartwatch features like LTE support in addition to health tracking would likely opt for the Pixel Watch, while the Fitbit Charge would be ideal for consumers who care more about fitness and battery life.

“The benefit of combining Pixel and Fitbit is that we’re able to collectively offer these different devices,” Park said in an exclusive interview with CNET’s Scott Stein ahead of Google I/O. “People can choose what suits them best.”

Familiar Fitbit features like Active Zone Minutes, which measures time spent in certain heart rate ranges during exercise, will be available on the Pixel Watch. Like many smartwatches today, the Pixel Watch will also track sleep and heart rate.

The company plans to add more Fitbit features in the future. “Over time, the Pixel Watch will have the most advanced health sensors,” Park said. “And we will be selective about how all of these features apply across the portfolio.”

Unlike the Pixel Watch, which will be Android-only, Fitbit products are also compatible with iPhones. Park said the company has no plans to discontinue support for iOS users on Fitbit products. “It’s really important to the Fitbit lineup,” he said.

Someone on a bicycle looks at their watch

The Google Pixel Watch on a person’s wrist

Google

Popular Google apps like Maps, Wallet, and Google Assistant will be part of the Pixel Watch, along with refreshed software that should feel “smooth” and “easy to navigate,” according to the company. The watch also features customizable straps and a tactile crown similar to that found on the Apple Watch.

For Google, launching a new hardware product like the Pixel Watch isn’t necessarily about selling the most units, according to Tuong Nguyen, senior principal analyst at market research firm Gartner. It’s about continuing to use Google’s apps and services, giving them a bigger role in our lives. It’s a strategy that has worked well for Apple.

“Hardware is like a delivery mechanism,” Nguyen said. “And we should, at least maybe in the short to medium term, focus more on what he can do.”

The company hasn’t announced pricing, availability, feature details, battery life, or other hardware specifics like the watch’s processor, health sensors, or display type. These questions will likely be answered in the fall, closer to the watch’s release.

Google already has some clout in the smartwatch market through its ownership of Fitbit and its Wear OS software platform, which powers watches from Fossil and Samsung, among others. Google will be both a partner and a competitor to these smartwatch makers once the Pixel Watch launches. By launching its first smartwatch, Google will also have the opportunity to show what the ideal Android watch experience should look like, just like its Pixel phones do for Android smartphones.

The company is best known for its ubiquitous search engine and digital services, but it’s made a bigger push into hardware in recent years. The Pixel Watch will join the current lineup of Google phones, smart home gadgets like thermostats and connected speakers, the Pixelbook Go Laptop and Chromecast streaming devices. It’s also one of many new hardware products in Google’s pipeline. The company announced on Wednesday Pixel 6A and Pixel Buds Pro, both of which will launch in July. He also premiered Pixel 7which will arrive in the fall, and a new pixel tablet coming in 2023.


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