Years of rumors are coming to fruition today—Google is finally launching the Pixel Watch. Google has been building a smartwatch OS for eight years, but it has never made self-branded smartwatch hardware. That changes today, or at least “this fall,” when the Pixel Watch is slated to hit store shelves.
Google only gave a brief overview of the Pixel Watch on Wednesday but didn’t include specs or a price. The watch includes Fitbit integration, the expected Google apps, and the design that leaked earlier. The front is all glass, with a spinnable crown on the side. The body is stainless steel, and the bands are removable. It supports NFC for tap and pay, and there’s a new Google Home app.
Google’s smartwatch OS—first called “Android Wear” and now “Wear OS”—has been dormant for years in both the hardware and software categories. Qualcomm strangled the Android smartwatch market by going six years between significant smartwatch system-on-a-chip releases, and Google let three years pass between major Wear OS updates. Google launched a plan to resurrect its smartwatch platform in the past year with the launch of Wear OS 3 and a serious, more reliable hardware partner in Samsung. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 dumped Samsung’s Tizen OS and is the first (and so far only) Wear OS 3 watch. At this point, the plan seems to be working, with Counterpoint Research tracking a huge Wear OS market share increase year over year, and now the OS is in striking distance of the Apple Watch.
The Galaxy Watch 4 has Wear OS, but that’s with a Samsung-centric skin that doesn’t include many of the basics like the Google Assistant. The Pixel Watch will be the second Wear OS 3 device, but it’s the first time anyone is getting a real, unmodified look at what Google has built.