Comment: What makes the Pixel Watch a Google Pixel device?

Comment: What makes the Pixel Watch a Google Pixel device?

In the broadest sense, Pixel phones are differentiated by features powered by AI and ML. The Pixel Watch – in the modern age – is the third Made by Google form factor with the “Pixel” branding. As a first-gen device, its claim to the name is a bit more tenuous.

So far with Pixel

The camera is the defining feature of Pixel phones, thanks to digital photography. This is an area that Google strives to continually improve and has been the guideline for the form factor.

Pixel Buds started with that same AI foundation through a combination of assistant and translation capabilities that debuted on the first-generation earbuds. That continued with Adaptive Sound and Attention Alerts, but those features were removed with the Pixel Buds Pro in an effort to create a really focused (and good) pair of headphones.

Fitbit and Google Watch Faces

With the Pixel Watch, the main smart feature is health tracking, and Google was specifically credited with helping to create Fitbit’s “most accurate heart rate tracking yet”. Fitbit’s James Park explained how the “Pixel Watch uses a combination of on-device machine learning and deep optimization, down to the processor level, to give you an accurate measurement of your continuous heart rate at a time. per second.” Testing has indeed revealed that it is more accurate than existing Fitbit hardware.

In terms of user experience, Fitbit information is highlighted using Wear OS tiles for daily heart rate, exercise quick launch, last activity, primary goal, sleep, and launch rapid ECG. In fact, this map-based UI element has even been exported to Fitbit’s latest smartwatches.

Meanwhile, there are the Fitbit Today (daily stats feed) and Exercise “apps”, but otherwise the only other exclusive Pixel Watch app today is Personal Safety’s Emergency SOS. From a partner perspective, Google Assistant, Home (although there’s a Quick Settings shortcut on the Pixel Watch), Wallet, and YouTube Music should be available for all OEM watches.

Outside of Fitbit, the biggest expression of Pixel are watch faces, which are roughly analogous to the Pixel Launcher and wallpapers on phones. Google has done a good job designing watch faces for the Pixel Watch with restraint. No face can be overloaded with complications like Infograph on the Apple Watch and some from Samsung. These faces, along with countless third-party Wear OS designs, contain so much information that readability is impaired. Often these designs betray an over-eagerness to take full advantage of the digital nature of a smartwatch that lets you use every inch of the screen. This is done without taking into account that monitoring interactions are short and, ironically, time-limited.

The other signature experience offered by the Pixel phone is software updates. Wear OS 3.5 first debuted on the Galaxy Watch, but Google’s device had yet to launch at that time. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Pixel Watch received major updates, with annual updates planned, first in the future. That said, much of the Wear OS experience these days is delivered through updated apps and services through the Play Store, so new software releases (vs experiences) are no argument. of sale as important as on telephones.

Is it sufficient?

Apart from the camera, Pixel phones have a few other software exclusives that are defined by their on-device nature. Pixel’s Recorder app might make sense on a watch, but the wrist-based use case is more suited to creating quick voice memos, which is why Apple and Samsung offer such an app on their watches.

Being able to transcribe those memos accurately and do it from such a portable form factor is handy, but it might be better suited to a dedicated notes app. Meanwhile, for anything longer (eg meetings and conferences), your phone is more than likely within reach. The same can be said for Now Playing, with battery life and always-on background listening raising technical issues.

Meanwhile, At a Glance – which Google thinks will come in handy in a prominent space on your lock and home screen – would be great on the Pixel Watch to better manage alerts. However, watch face complications are mostly about this use case, with people preferring to choose what information they want to see. Google could bring In at a Glance as a dedicated watch face – the Apple Watch has a map-based Siri – or a large rectangular complication slot, which on the Pixel Watch is currently unique to Utility and seriously under -used.

The Pixel’s AI capabilities are a worthy competitive advantage in smartphones. Several years after the debut of the Apple Watch, fitness became the selling point and Google literally bought Fitbit to provide a competitive experience. Whether Fitbit tracking will ever come to devices from Fossil and Ticwatch remains to be seen, but it could very well remain exclusive to first-party devices like the Pixel Watch and this “premium” Fitbit Wear OS watch teased at I/O 2021.

In the end, Fitbit might be enough to make the Pixel Watch a Google Pixel device. However, a chipset less than four years old and possible advancements in battery technology will allow Google to bring native smartwatch AI capabilities to the Pixel Watch. This differentiation would make the smartwatch landscape much more interesting.

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