Google’s Pixel Watch, which combines Google and Fitbit technologies, among others, will be released Thursday, October 13th.
Crucially, the Google Pixel Watch is round — offering a competitor to the Apple Watch Series 8 — in a more traditional wristwatch form factor. Like the smallest Apple Watch Series 8, the Google Pixel Watch is 41 mm diameters across, although, comparing the diameter of a rectangle watch to a circular watch, is not Apples to Apples. And Apple also offers a larger 45 mm Series 8 smartwatch, as well as the all-new 49 mm Apple Watch Ultra.
While the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra both share a rectangular form factor, which is perhaps functionally the best layout for a touchscreen device, aesthetically, you could argue the Google Pixel Watch is more visually appealing to a broad audience.
Apple launched its first watch in 2014 — creating shockwaves across the watch industry at the time — and is the best-selling watch in the world currently, by a large margin. The Apple Watch has saturated the market with its rectangular form factor, and even though the Google Pixel Watch may be better looking, in my opinion, the round Google Pixel Watch is far better looking, functionally, and feature-wise, however, the Apple Watch not only has the mature ecosystem — it can also connect with Android (albeit with reduced functionality compared to when connected with a native Apple device). Whereas the Google Pixel Watch only works with Android devices at this time.
Moreover, the Watch Series 8 and Ultra, have four proprietary technologies that keep Apple users locked in the system, just as they do with their iPhones: iMessage, Apple Music, and Apple Pay. If you don’t have an Apple phone you cannot send iMessages in blue, only green. Facetime is another tech that’s exclusive to Apple. And if you’re invested in and by default Apple Music, which to me is amongst the worst music players ever made, designed by Apple to extract money all while making your listening experience and music archive management terrible, naturally, you cannot use that with Google. Lastly, something that’s becoming increasingly more important and convenient for users, is Apple Pay, which quite simply, unlike Apple Music, works great, and does not take advantage of you as a user in the way Apple Music does. Critically, Apply Pay has been adopted by far more stores than Google’s competing Google Pay, the latter of which is the only advanced payment option on the Google Pixel Watch.
Aside from these three aforementioned technologies, which Apple has used, in a monopolistic way, to bolster its dominance of the smartwatch and phone, the Google Pixel Watch has a lot of technology and good design, that make it competitive, especially if you already have a Google Pixel or other Android-equipped smartphone.
The Google Pixel Watch offers up to 24 hours of battery life and features a compass, altimeter, blood oxygen sensor, multipurpose electrical sensor, optical heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, and ambient light sensor.
Constructed with 80% recycled stainless steel and 3D Corning Gorilla Glass 5, the Google Pixel Watch seems very well made, although we’ve not tested its durability. The Google Pixel Watch is rated to a depth of 50 meters and can be used in the shower or while swimming, which is comparable to the Apple Watch Series 5 rating.
It’s worth noting that the Apple Watch Ultra, which was released last month, has a 100-meter depth rating, although it’s much larger at 49 mm, and is in a rectangle case like all Apple Watches, not to mention a price tag starting at $799, or double the price of an LTE equipped Google Pixel Watch.
Running Wear OS by Google, the Pixel Watch offers Google Maps, Google Wallet (Google Pay), Google Assistant, Gmail, Google Calendar, and Youtube Music. For health, Fitbit, which is owned by Google, is built-in and provides accurate heart rate tracking, by tracking workouts across 40 exercises. The ECG app assesses your heart rhythm for atrial fibrillation. Sleep tracking allows you to wear your watch to bed to get a Sleep Score, and see metrics like breathing rate and heart rate variability in the Fitbit app.
The Pixel Watch can alert trusted contacts or 911 if you’re feeling unsafe and like the Apple Watch, has fall detection (available Fall 2022), which helps connect you with emergency services if you’ve had a hard fall.
The Google Pixel Watch works seamlessly with Pixel phones and earbuds. You can ring your phone from your watch, and ring your watch or earbuds from your phone. And like with Apple devices, you can use “Find My Device” to help you locate your misplaced Pixel phone, earbuds, or watch on a map.
Additionally, Pixel phones, Pixel Buds, and the Google Pixel Watch give you access to your smart home devices from anywhere. Use the Google Home app to turn up the heat, turn off lights, or get notifications if a person or a package is at the door.
You’ll need to own an Android phone that runs 8.0+ to pair your Google Pixel Watch. Once you have paired your phone and activated the 4G LTE option with a compatible carrier, you can receive texts and calls, play music, and use Google Pay, Google Assistant, and more without your phone. Whereas with the Bluetooth/Wi-Fi Pixel Watch model, you need your phone close by in order to receive calls, notifications, and more.
The Google Pixel Watch is compatible with all Google Pixel and Android phones running Android 8.0 or newer. For phone calls, you can use Google Pixel Watch’s built-in speaker and mic or pair your watch with Pixel Buds.
The Google Pixel Watch price will start at $349 for a GPS + Bluetooth-only configuration. The LTE-compatible version of the Pixel Watch costs $399. There’s only one size, and while things like iMessage, Apple Music, and Apple Pay do not work with the Google smartwatch, the design and functionality are quite compelling, especially for Google’s first smartwatch.
Each Google Pixel Watch includes a small and large Active band, and at launch, there are 20 straps to choose from.
Learn more at Google.
Photos by Google.