A flagship Google watch may finally be happening
Update: Qualcomm’s next gen smartwatch chipset is set to focus on battery life improvements, and it’ll be inside the Google Pixel Watch.
The recently rebranded Wear OS software may soon show off its full ability with the upcoming rumored Google Pixel Watch.
Previously some had expected Google to make its own smartwatch to show off everything Wear OS can do, in a similar way to the latest Android software and the Google Pixel 2 range, but so far it hasn’t happened.
One report from reliable Twitter leaker @Evleaks says he has information from a trusted source that a Google Pixel Watch is in development and will be released later this year at Google’s autumnal hardware launch. That’s set to come alongside the Google Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL and a second generation version of the Google Pixel Buds.
Another report – this time from WinFuture – has suggested there may actually be three versions of the Pixel Watch in development. The website has heard word of devices with code names Ling, Triton and Sardine all in development at Google HQ.
Below we’re going to break down everything we know so far about the new watch, plus we’ve also put together the features and design we’d like from the first flagship watch.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The first flagship watch designed by Google
- What will it cost? Probably high-end cost, but no specifics yet
- When is it out? Later this year, perhaps October alongside Pixel 3
Google Pixel Watch release date and price
An exact release date for the rumored Google Pixel Watch isn’t clear. The original tweet from Evleaks contains information from what he calls a “reliable source” that it will be announced alongside the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
We’d expect Google to unveil its new flagship phones in October this year as that’ll be a whole year since the Pixel 2 announcement and two years after the original Pixel was unveiled. In fact, both the last two Pixel launches happened on October 4 of 2016 and 2017 so it may be coming on that date in 2018.
That may be subject to change if Google decides to host its event at a different time and we probably won’t hear official word from Google on that event for quite a while.
The report above from WinFuture about three versions of the Google Pixel Watch also says the device has reached its second level of design verification, which is a test to see if the device would be easy to mass produce. That suggests the watch design will be final enough to be put onto the production line in the next few months.
As for price, we don’t currently have any idea how much this watch will cost. Considering the Pixel range is usually high-end products with generally flagship level prices, we’d expect that but we don’t currently have any evidence supporting it.
Google Pixel Watch news and rumors
In terms of spec, there isn’t much known about the Google Pixel Watch. We can expect this to be a high-end device that uses the latest technology in smartwatches, but what that will be won’t be known until we hear leaks of the product.
Senior director of wearables at Qualcomm, Pankaj Kedia, previously said the chipset manufacturer is hard at work on a next-gen processor for upcoming smartwatches.
It’ll be a follow up to the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 we’ve seen in a lot of the best Wear OS watches over the last two years. He said the new tech will be available on a new flagship watch that will be ready before Christmas, so it may be he was speaking of the Google Pixel Watch.
Reported by XDA Developers, we expect the name of the chipset will be Snapdragon Wear 3100 and its headline feature is set to help battery life on smartwatches.
It’s called ‘Blackghost’ and will be a power management integrated circuit built into the chipset itself that will allow the watches to listen out for voice commands at all times without draining the battery.
Basically, expect to be able to ask Google Assistant questions without either draining your smartwatch after a few hours or having to press a button beforehand.
The rumor that Google is making three versions of the watch may mean we’ll see three variants of the Pixel Watch.
It may mean there will be one watch in the range with LTE or another that’s designed to be more focused on fitness, but so far we’ve yet to hear any rumors of what those different versions will be.
What we want to see
Below we’ve put together a list of the things we want to see from the Google Pixel Watch when it officially launches later this year.
1. Rotating crown or bezel
Before the switch to Wear OS, Android Wear 2.0 put a big focus on how the design had been reworked to play well with rotating bezels and crowns, but then we haven’t seen many watches embrace that.
Why not use it for the Google Pixel Watch? Those features may be far in Google’s rear view mirror as the Wear OS updates take precedent, but we’d love to see an innovative way of interacting with the watch such as a rotating crown or bezel.
2. In-display fingerprint scanner
If Google really wants to put the Pixel Watch on the map, adding an in-display fingerprint scanner would go a long way to doing that. Currently Wear OS watches (and the Apple Watch) allow you to secure them with a PIN code – but that’s not the most secure form of protection available.
With an in-display fingerprint scanner, the secure biometric technology would fit seamlessly into the wearable without disrupting the visual appeal of the watch. It would also allow you to approve purchases over the current contactless limit (assuming the Pixel Watch comes with NFC).
There are a couple of potential negatives here though. Firstly, the addition of this fledgling technology could increase the thickness of the watch – and no one wants an overly chunky wearable – but secondly it’ll also likely push the price tag way up.
If Google can overcome these two things though, you can sign us up for a Pixel Watch right now.
We’re used to smartwatches coming with a level of dust and water resistance, but few carry an IP certification high enough to ensure their survival when we cannonball into the local pool.
A fully swim-proof Google Pixel Watch would not only allow you to keep the wearable on in the bath, but also allow you to track workouts in the pool without fear of malfunction.
4. Three day battery life
This is a simple one, but we want the Google Pixel Watch to last as long as it can. Imagine a fully fledged smartwatch that doesn’t need charging after two days of intensive usage.
Wear OS is integrating a useful enhanced battery saver mode that should give you a lot more time with your smartwatch, but it’ll limit the amount of features you can use when it’s on.
Clearly Google wants to improve how long your watch will last from one charge, but we’d love to see a big battery inside the watch and well optimized software that offers the best battery for a smartwatch on the market right now.
5. NFC payments
Another simple one here, but quite a few Wear OS watches don’t come with NFC built in so you aren’t able to use Google Pay features on your wrist. That’s a frustration for a lot of people, so we’re hoping Google will include an NFC chip inside the watch.
That’ll especially be useful when you’re out for a run and you need to buy a bottle of water, but you’ve left your wallet at home.
6. Best in class fitness
While we’re on the topic of running, we want the Pixel Watch to compete with the fitness prowess of the Apple Watch 3 as well as top-end specialist watches like the Garmin Forerunner 935.
Imagine if Google can include all of the latest tracking tech including accurate GPS, LTE so we can listen to music on the go as well as a top of the range heart rate tracker.
We want to be able to strap the Google Pixel Watch to our wrist and head out for any type of exercise and know we’ll be tracked accurately and get as much fitness stats as we possibly can.
7. High-end watch design
This one is a given, but we want to see a watch that you’re not embarrassed to wear on your wrist. Not every Wear OS watch is a gorgeous creation, so we wish Google will be able to offer a slimmer option than most other manufacturers that uses high-end materials and feels like a proper timepiece you’re excited to wear.
If you’re going to be spending a fair amount of money on a new watch, you’ll want it to look great on your wrist so this is one of the most important things we want to see on the new wearable.