photo: Victoria song

As a longtime Android user, I’ve spent most of a decade on the fringes of an entire product category, waiting for a wearable that could rival it Apple watch. From startups to traditional watchmakers, lots of companies have promised a worthy alternative just to release smartwatches with crippling compromises. Each failure tarnished hopes of a viable Apple Watch rivalwhile Google, the company responsible for the underlying Android smartwatch OS, apparently lost interest in its own platform.

Now there is hope again. Google recently woke up from its slumber and Partnership with Samsungwhose Galaxy smartwatches have long been the best option for non-iPhone users to develop Wear OS 3. When the first smartwatch with the new software platform arrived in the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, it was widely touted by critics (including us) as the “first good Android smartwatch”. The sale of this watch has elevated Android’s market share for wearables over the past few months.

Google wants to build on this momentum with the long-awaited release of its own Pixel Watch. Yes, a Pixel Watch, not a Fitbit watch, as was postulated afterwards Google’s acquisition of Fitbit last year. I’m not getting too high hopes for it, but everything I’ve seen so far suggests that Google’s first smartwatch may soon be creating a brownish streak on my left wrist.

The latest encouraging information is from Leaker Jon Prosser, who posted on his YouTube channel What he claims are official promotional photos. These leaked marketing materials match previous renders from the same sources and show (albeit grainy) images of the rumored Google Pixel Watch.

Google Pixel Watch leak

If these are the real deal, the Pixel Watch will have a simple circular design with a practically bezel-free watch face that seems to waterfall around the edges. On the right side is a substantial crown for physical controls. And unlike the somewhat chunky Apple Watch, the Pixel Watch appears impressively thin in these renders.

It looks, well, luxurious. And while not everyone will take to the design, the low-profile watch looks so small that you probably wouldn’t even notice it throughout the day, even during a workout. I also like that there is a physical dial to interface with Wear OS 3 because swiping around such a tiny display can be a pain in the ass.

While the leak doesn’t reveal specs or give a features rundown, a few of the alleged marketing slides show what you can do with the watch, including the ability to get directions on Google Maps, track health metrics, and answer phone calls.

I admit, I’d stopped paying much attention to Pixel Watch rumors as a means of shielding myself from any further heartbreak, but the success of the Pixel 6 has revived my trust in Google after some questionable hardware decisions (raise hands, Pixel 5 Owner). Remember, Google pissed off the smartphone industry when the original Pixel hit the market, and it has the option to do it again with the Pixel Watch.

But let me slow down for a second because There is too many missing pieces in this puzzle. How Google wants to position the Pixel Watch as a fully fledged competitor to the Apple Watch or a fitness-oriented Fitbit-like wearableremains a mystery, as do the components that are supposed to ensure a smooth experience (something previous Android watches struggled with).

I also worry about what the slimness of the watch means for battery life: the Achilles Heel of most wearables. Using a battery pack that is too small for a full day is a surefire way to ruin a smartwatch. I wouldn’t mind a few extra millimeters of thickness if it kept the wearable alive into day two. I’m speculating here, but poor endurance has been the kryptonite of many Android watches, and the dainty design featured in this latest leak puzzles me.

Rumor has it that Google will launch the Pixel Watch sometime in 2022 so that Android users can set their analog watches for the last time for what we all hope.

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