The Apple Watch is the undisputed champion of the smartwatch ecosystem. It’s the smartwatch most people want to buy and the watch that many companies try to copy. Some have released wearables that look like Watch clones, although they’re not quite as feature-rich as the Apple Watch. One big reason for the absence of great Apple Watch alternatives is Google, which hasn’t made an effort to compete in this particular department in recent years. That includes both Wear OS — the Android-based operating system that could power all those Apple Watch alternatives from other technology vendors — and the hardware itself.
Previous rumors claimed that Google had abandoned its Pixel Watch project, but that no longer appears to be the case. Google hasn’t lost interest in wearables, and its acquisition of Fitbit is proof of that. On top of that, a new report from a well-known leaker gives us an early look at the Pixel Watch, which would be the first Google smartwatch launched under the Pixel brand.
YouTube Jon Prosser has provided several accurate leaks in the past, focusing primarily on Apple’s products. But Prosser also offers Pixel and Galaxy leaks from time to time, with his newest claims concerning Google’s hardware plans. On Friday, the leaker said that the current chip shortage forced Google to cancel the Pixel 5a, a phone that was expected to launch in the coming months, after a likely Google I/O 2021 reveal. A report from Android Central seemed to corroborate those claims, but then Google actually announced the new Pixel 5a series.
Prosser also offered renders of this first-gen Pixel Watch after teasing the device earlier this week. According to the renders, the wearable has a circular screen, similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Watch. That particular form-factor choice is a simple way to indicate the wearable isn’t just an Apple Watch wannabe. On the other hand, most watches have a circular watch face, with Motorola’s Moto 360 line having made round smartwatches mainstream back when Google was actually competing in the business.
Codenamed Rohan, the device will likely run a new version of Wear OS. Prosser’s renders might not be confirmed for a while, but seeing Google announce new Wear OS features on stage at Google I/O next month could be an indication that the company is ready to take another shot at wearables.
The marketing materials that Prosser saw suggest the operating system will offer users a simple, uncluttered interface that will provide clear information, whether it’s health data, directions, or “your world.” Apparently, Google is looking to offer information “at a glance on that round, bezel-less display.” The UI in these concept images is based on the marketing images of the Pixel Watch that Prosser was shown by his sources:
The Pixel Watch will also give consumers the ability to choose between around 20 bands, including a unique one shown in some of these renders that features internal grooves to let users customize the fit.
The Pixel Watch will likely release this fall alongside the Pixel 6. That’s how Apple launches its new Apple Watch models, and Google has been a close follower of Apple’s launch strategy. Unlike the Apple Watch — which is tied to the iPhone — the Pixel Watch will likely work with any Android device. Prosser did say that the projected Pixel Watch release date is October, unless Google changes its mind. Pricing information isn’t available at this time.
If you want to know more about Google’s plans, the full episode of Prosser’s Front Page Tech follows below: