Google has its . announcedon Wednesday, furthering the tech giant’s expansion into hardware. The company teased its first smartwatch during its conference, but plans to reveal more details closer to the fall launch of the device.
The watch has a domed circular design, runs on Google’s Wear OS smartwatch software and includes somehealth tracking features. Google has not announced a price, but said it will be sold as a premium product.
The Pixel Watch represents Google’s first big step into the smartwatch market, where shipments grew 24% in 2021, according to Counterpoint Research† Google is a newcomer to this market. Rivals love and leading the market and have been selling smartwatches for years. The company sees its new smartwatch as crucial to building its Pixel brand into a full ecosystem of products similar to those from Apple and Samsung, including phones, tablets, wireless earbuds and smartwatches.
“You got youryou got your you have YouTube Music,” said Ramon Llamas, research director at International Data Corporation, a market research firm. “And now you’re suddenly seeing this more than in previous years, a much more obvious direct competitor to Apple.”
The announcement comes more than a year laterclosed in January 2021. While the Fitbit team is driving development of the Pixel Watch, Google has no plans to merge the two product lines, said Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of devices and services.
, said James Park, the founder of Fitbit who now heads Google’s wearables division. Those interested in having more traditional smartwatch features like LTE support in addition to health tracking would probably opt for the Pixel Watch, while the Fitbit Charge would be ideal for consumers who care more about fitness and battery life.
“The great thing about combining Pixel and Fitbit is that we can offer these different devices together,” Park said in a statement exclusive interview with Scott Stein of CNET for Google I/O. “People can choose what’s best for them.”
Well-known Fitbit features such as: Active zone minutes, which measures the amount of time spent in certain heart rate ranges during exercise, will be available on the Pixel Watch. Like many of today’s smartwatches, the Pixel Watch also tracks sleep and heart rate.
The company expects to add more Fitbit functionality in the future. “Over time, the Pixel Watch will have the most advanced health sensors,” Park said. “And we’re going to be selective about how all those features appear across the portfolio.”
Unlike the Pixel Watch, which will be Android-only, Fitbit’s products are also compatible with iPhones. Park said the company has no plans to end support for iOS users on Fitbit products. “It’s really important to the Fitbit lineup,” he said.
Popular Google apps like Maps, Wallet and Google Assistant will be part of the Pixel Watch, along with revamped software that the company says should feel “smooth” and “easy to navigate.” The watch also has adjustable bands and a tactile crown similar to the one 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, a senior principal analyst at market research firm Gartner. It’s about people continuing to use Google’s apps and services so that they take a more prominent role in our lives. It’s a strategy that has worked well for Apple.
“The hardware is like a delivery mechanism,” Nguyen says. “And we should, at least maybe in the short to medium term, focus more on what it can do.”
The company has not announced pricing, availability, feature details, battery life or other hardware specifications such as 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 leverage in the smartwatch market thanks to its ownership of Fitbit and its Wear OS software platform, which watches from Fossil and Samsung, among other things. Google will be both a partner and a competitor to these smartwatch makers once the Pixel Watch debuts. Launching its first smartwatch will also give Google a chance to showcase what the ideal Android viewing experience should look like, much like its Pixel phones do for Android smartphones.
The company is best known for its ubiquitous search engine and digital services, but it has made a bigger push toward hardware in recent years. The Pixel Watch joins Google’s current lineup of phones, smarthome gadgets like thermostats and connected speakers, theand Chromecast streaming devices. It’s also just one of many new hardware products in Google’s pipeline. The company announced on Wednesday that and , both of which will launch in July. It also gave an example of the which will arrive in the fall, and a coming in 2023.