Will a Pixel Watch with Wear OS be the Apple Watch rival Android has been missing?Photo: Victoria Song / Gizmodo
The rumor mill has been teasing Android users for years with the possibility of a Google-made Android smartwatch, and a new report indicates it might actually finally be happening.
According to an Insider report, Google is working on a Pixel-branded smartwatch as opposed to a Fitbit one, which many had speculated might happen after Google’s acquisition of Fitbit was finalized earlier this year. That means the watch will likely be in a similar vein as Google’s Pixel smartphones, which serve as a showcase of what Google software is capable of for other Android phone makers.
According to the report, the smartwatch is referred to as “Rohan” within Google’s offices, which, OK! It’s round, not square like the Apple Watch, and it has no physical bezel. The watch is expected to offer basic fitness-tracking features like step counts and a heart rate monitor, plus other features lifted from Fitbit. The Insider report references specific Fitbit integration through a product called “Nightlight,” another internal codename that tells us little about what it might do.
It’s unclear whether this watch will be called the Pixel Watch. The codename “Rowan” has also been tossed around a few times by leakers like Jon Prosser, who revealed what purported to be renders of Google’s smartwatch back in April (though who knows if those are legit).
Google has been massively overhauling its wearables division over the past few years. It acquired some of Fossil’s technology and then bought Fitbit, and though it a Pixel Watch seemed inevitable at one point, the watch has never materialized. More recently, Google rebranded the Android-based Wear OS software platform and partnered with Samsung to move the latter’s watches over from a proprietary OS back to Wear OS. You can now experience the new Wear OS on select smartwatches, including the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. Sales of the watch have helped increase Android’s wearables market share in the past few months.
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But all that is still not enough to move the needle to where it needs to be. Google has to offer something unique to compete with the Apple Watch, which has dominated the market for years and has pushed smartwatches from mere phone accessories into full-blown health devices.
Google will likely lean hard on what its data can do for your health and fitness. In September, the company disbanded its health division, but it sounded more like a restructuring as it pursued other health initiatives. Rick Osterloh, Google’s head of hardware, mentioned this year at Google I/O (and then again in an interview with The Verge) that the company would be consolidating its consumer health efforts into Fitbit so that it could “grow and knit together.” Hopefully, what they knit is an Android smartwatch that’s actually worth wearing.