Fitbit Makes its Android Watch Debut with the Google Pixel Watch Hands-On
Google’s first wristwatch, which has a rounded design and Fitbit features, has a lot of potential.
Google’s first smartwatch is called the Pixel Watch. We had the chance to experience one firsthand at a Thursday event. Fitbit tracker features are abundant on the watch, which has a circular face. At its annual developer conference in May, Google debuted the Pixel Watch with the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro smartphones. But until last week, we were unable to meet them in person.
The news follows Google’s May I/O developer conference teasing of the Pixel Watch. While Google previously unveiled the watch’s design and offered a glimpse of its software, it held much of the key elements like cost, functionality, and design until Thursday’s announcement.
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The $350 Pixel Watch from Google features Fitbit health tracking.
Google has mainly avoided the smartwatch business, producing only the Wear OS smartwatch software that is utilised by Samsung, Fossil, and Michael Kors. Additionally, the business owns Fitbit, which it bought in 2021. However, the $350 (£339, AU$549) Pixel Watch is the first wristwatch to be marketed as a Google product under the company’s premium Pixel label. It happens at a time when the company is making a new push into hardware in an effort to become a well-known brand alongside Apple and Samsung in the mobile device market.
The Pixel Watch stands out from the majority of Android-compatible smartwatches on the market because to its sophisticated appearance. But with the launch of the second Apple Watch coming seven years after the first, it has a lot of catching up to do in terms of the overall market. According to Counterpoint Research, Apple has a 29% global market share in the wristwatch market as of the second quarter of 2022. With 9% of the market share for Android-compatible smartwatches, Samsung is the industry leader, much behind Apple.
For owners of Android devices, the Pixel Watch already seems like a good option thanks to its stylish design and Fitbit health metrics. However, I could also see how the Pixel Watch may make it more difficult for Fitbit to integrate its own wearables into Google’s product line. The Pixel Watch, according to the manufacturer, is intended for people who want Fitbit’s health tracking capabilities together with extra smartwatch features, such as optional LTE connectivity and Google Play Store apps, that Fitbit devices do not have.
Contrarily, the $300 Fitbit Sense 2 offers more health and wellness features like the ability to analyse skin temperature and recognise potential indicators of stress. The success or failure of the Pixel Watch may reveal what features buyers look for in a smartwatch.
The Pixel Watch may be the most attractive smartwatch to date.
The Pixel Watch is designed with Google’s stance as a premium smartwatch in mind, as stated in a May statement. In contrast to other smartwatches I’ve seen, the Pixel Watch sports a domed, circular glass design with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and a stainless steel chassis.
The watch can withstand pressure equivalent to a depth of 50 metres because it is water resistant up to 5 ATM. Like Apple’s flagship watches and Fitbit’s smartwatches, it also has an always-on display that can show the time and other information while the screen is not in use. It will come in four different finishes: champagne gold with a hazel active band, polished silver with a chalk active band, matte black with an obsidian active band, and polished silver with a charcoal active band.
There will also be a range of band designs to select from, including casual leather and metal mesh alternatives, light sports bands, breathable woven bands made for tracking sleep, and more formal ones. I could understand how wearing the stretch band to bed would be the best use for it because it is surprisingly light and comfortable. My wrist almost has the sensation of having a scrunchie on.
It is quite easy to switch out the bands; you only need to push a button where the band attaches to the housing and slide the band in that way. It took me a few attempts to get the hang of it, but once you do, it’s simple.
The Pixel Watch appears to be the closest design rival to the Apple Watch at first appearance, with the exception that it is rounded rather than square. As a devoted user of the Apple Watch, the Pixel Watch’s excellent construction and the way its bands feel and look are somewhat familiar to me, but in a positive way. Along the edge of the watch is a crown that functions as both a button and a scroll wheel, similar to the digital crown on the Apple Watch. However, the Pixel Watch stands apart from the majority of wearables, including the Apple Watch and expensive hybrid watches like the Withings ScanWatch Horizon, because to its domed glass design.
However, even though they mix in well with the rest of the watch, the bezels encircling the display are a little large. I’ll need to use the watch for longer before I can determine whether its width and other characteristics affect the overall experience.
Software for the Pixel Watch combines Fitbit and Google technologies.
The Pixel Watch utilises some of Fitbit’s health features and is powered by Google’s Wear OS 3.5 operating system. The software on the Pixel Watch resembles the newly revamped Fitbit Sense 2 interface a lot from the brief time I’ve gotten to see it in person. It also has a quick, snappy feel about it. In contrast to the Fitbit Sense 2, which occasionally pauses before launching apps, I felt like I was gliding across the operating system.
The Pixel Watch offers tiles for showing activity statistics, heart rate, the weather, exercise shortcuts, and other information, just as the Sense 2. Similar to how tapping the side button on the Sense 2 brings up your app list, pressing the Pixel Watch’s crown will take you to your apps. Additionally, you will receive Fitbit-specific metrics like Active Zone Minutes, which awards you additional points based on how quickly your heart rate increases while you exercise, and a daily readiness score.
But it doesn’t appear that the programme is exactly the same. The Pixel Watch comes with additions like smart home controls, access to the Google Play Store from your wrist, and optional LTE connectivity (although the cellular version of the watch will cost somewhat more at $400). Google is promoting the Pixel Watch as a more fully featured smartwatch. The watch also has a compass for navigation and emergency SOS, as well as support for mobile payments using Google Wallet and international emergency dialling. From what I’ve seen, the Pixel Watch also looks to perform more quickly than the Sense 2, though I’ll need to use it for a while before I can be sure.
On the Pixel Watch, watch faces appear to be considerably more important; there are 18 different designs that Google claims may be fully customised. You may, for instance, add complexities and alter the face and dial colours. Again, anyone who has used an Apple Watch should be able to relate to this.
Fitbit health tracking is available on Pixel Watch.
You could almost compare the Pixel Watch to an extremely attractive Fitbit wristwatch in terms of health tracking. Your entire health data will be stored in the Fitbit app (although Google says it will continue to support Google Fit, too). Like any other Fitbit device, the Pixel Watch will be compatible with the Fitbit app. You will therefore receive Fitbit-specific metrics like your readiness score and sleep score in addition to workout and activity tracking. Additionally, Fitbit Premium, a $10 monthly subscription that grants access to extra health data and fitness plans, will be included with the Pixel Watch for six months at no additional cost.
Thanks to these sensors and its machine learning algorithms, Google believes the Pixel Watch will provide the company’s most precise heart rate tracking yet, even outperforming Fitbit’s devices.
In addition, it will be modified so that it can perform ECGs on the wrist and detect blood oxygen saturation, just like Fitbit and Apple Watches. The Pixel Watch will include fall detection and has built-in GPS to track running routes, similar to the Apple Watch.
The Fitbit Sense 2, Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, Apple Watch Series 8, and the Pixel Watch all have temperature sensors; the Pixel Watch does not. However, given temperature sensors are still a relatively new addition to smartwatches and businesses are still working out the most effective ways to use that data, that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Additionally, Google believes that sets the Pixel Watch apart from the Fitbit Sense 2.
Battery life and other information for the Pixel Watch
According to Google, the Exynos 9110 CPU and a coprocessor power the Pixel Watch, which should last for 24 hours on a single charge. That should result in a battery life that is roughly comparable to the Apple Watch’s, though we won’t know for sure until we test the watch in person. Contrarily, the Fitbit Sense 2 is expected to last approximately six days, according to Fitbit. Additionally, purchasers of Pixel Watches will receive three free months of YouTube Music Premium, and the device includes a built-in speaker and microphone for use with the Google Assistant and for making and receiving calls.
Given how important the Tensor processor is to the smartphone experience, it’s a little surprising that Google didn’t create its own Tensor processor just for the Pixel Watch. The system-on-a-chip and coprocessor of the Pixel Watch, according to Google, each tackle a different task to maximise power and performance. When it comes to step counting, GPS, and background heart rate, for instance, the coprocessor manages these tasks while Wear OS and LTE capabilities are controlled by the main processor.
Initial thoughts on Pixel Watch
Android device owners have had to contend with a fragmented ecosystem of goods from manufacturers like Samsung, Fitbit, Garmin, Michael Kors, and others when it comes to smartwatches. With limited overlap, the majority of those watches are fashion- or fitness-focused. The Pixel Watch might be the first smartwatch with an Android focus to change that, but it’s unclear if that will be enough to guarantee its success.
the 6th of October 2022 at 7:45 a.m. Pacific Time.