While Google got into the smartwatch game before Apple did with Android Wear, Google’s smartwatch operating system hasn’t seen the same uptake as Apple’s. This fall, Google is expected to unveil multiple Pixel Watches alongside the upcoming Pixel 3 smartphones. There aren’t many concrete details to share, but Google’s Pixel Watches will likely be the shot of adrenaline that Android Wear (recently rebranded at Wear OS) needs to be pulled back from the brink of extinction.
If you look at the current state of the Wear OS landscape, Fossil is the only real player that’s truly committed to the platform. The larger electronics makers like LG, Huawei and Motorola have all built smartwatches with Google’s OS over the past few years, but their interest in the category has waned since sales never really panned out.
The only real reason Fossil is still building smartwatches is that the company managed to secure contracts to build watches for Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Tag Heuer, Tommy Hilfiger and other luxury brands. These smartwatches haven’t been hugely popular, but Fossil appears to be happy with the results and is continuing to design and release more smartwatches than any other company.
But if the rumors pan out, Google will finally have some skin in the game and that may finally make Wear OS a viable alternative to the Apple Watch. Based on what we know so far, there may be as many as three Pixel Watches which will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor. The new chip uses a new 28nm-based Cortex-A7 setup which integrates GPS, Wi-Fi, LTE with VoLTE and Bluetooth to reduce power consumption. But as you might expect, it also allows smartwatches to always be listening for wake-word commands without completely draining the battery in just a few hours. This means the Pixel Watches will give you access to Google Assistant through voice commands without having press a button.
There is gonna be more than one, it seems. More like three.
— Roland Quandt (@rquandt) May 10, 2018
While we don’t know what Google’s Pixel Watches will look like, if they will have a round or square display, or what other specs they’ll offer, the fact that Google is committing to Wear OS by releasing its own hardware will have a huge impact on Wear OS. Other manufacturers will likely follow suit, delivering Wear OS smartwatches with Qualcomm’s new chip and adding in new features which will allow them to stand out from their competitors.
I’m not predicting that sales of the Pixel 3 Watches or other Wear OS watches will come close to matching sales of the Apple Watch, but we should start to see a shift in the numbers and Google’s Wear OS finally starts to gain some momentum.