Why does Google’s Pixel Watch have to be the Apple Watch Android to be successful

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Software that matches the looks, looks that match the software. We already know a lot about the Pixel Watch. It’s going to be one of the sleekest looking wearables for Android phones, appearing to be taking the Apple Watch head-on in the design department. In contrast to the Apple Watch, Google will go for a round watch rather than a rectangular one, and it already looks timeless and weightless in the leaked real-life images. But looks aren’t everything, as beautiful as the Pixel Watch seems on the surface. The Apple Watch is similarly beautiful to behold, but it has long had the smarts to match the look.

Google will almost certainly announce the Pixel Watch at Google I/O this month, whether it will be available for purchase immediately or only teased for a later date. We’ve learned a lot about the accessory this past week, with a tonne of real-life images cropping up thanks to a leaker who managed to snag up the watch after a group of supposed Google engineers forgot it at a bar. While early images of the hardware appear to be very promising, the Pixel Watch will also need to provide the smarts, health features, and seamless integration that have made the Apple Watch so popular in order to lead the Android pack.

Highlights

  • Battery life is another issue for many Wear OS devices to this date, with a lot of products not lasting more than 18 to 20 hours on a single charge—you can forget about proper nightly sleep tracking with a device like that. The Pixel Watch is rumored to be one of the better watches when it comes to battery life and performance thanks to its supposed Exynos-based custom chip, but we don’t have confirmation yet. Unlike Apple, Google doesn’t have the same brand recognition when it comes to hardware, though, so it might still be tough to stand out.

  • The Pixel Watch’s exterior design will have to match the software and internal hardware. Google made strides ever since it combined efforts with Samsung in creating Wear OS 3, introducing a user interface that works well enough on a small screen, all while both Qualcomm and Samsung finally offer good processors for wearable that don’t lag behind smartphone SoCs by years. But there are still a lot of improvements to be made. Notably, the pairing and unpairing process is incredibly painful when you move phones, requiring a full reset of the watch, with you struggling to reinstall all of your apps and watchfaces all while you’re already hard at work setting up your new phone. An Apple Watch can simply be paired with a new iPhone, in contrast.

Google could add some killer Fitbit integration to the Pixel Watch, but at this point, it’s still unclear how exactly this is going to look like. Is the Google watch supposed to be controlled via the Fitbit app rather than the Wear OS app? Or is Fitbit just going to be another point receiving your fitness data, requiring you to use two or maybe even three apps when you throw Google Fit into the mix, the app that’s usually in charge of fitness tracking on Wear OS devices. That’s sure more cumbersome than what Apple offers with its seamlessly integrated ecosystem.

It’s also unclear how exactly Google wants to differentiate the Pixel Watch from the rest of the Wear OS crowd when it comes to software. It’s possible that the Google watch could be the first one to receive Google Assistant support, which has been sorely missing from Wear OS 3 ever since it was introduced. However, Samsung is already preparing advertisements around the Assistant for its Galaxy Watch4, so if the Pixel Watch doesn’t go on sale soon, it’s possible that the Korean company could debut the Assistant before Google itself.

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