Google Pixel Watch review

Google Pixel Watch review


Google Pixel Watch review

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 Since 2014, Google has been working on wearables, but the Pixel Watch is the first smartwatch it has actually made. How come it took so long? 

No one knows for sure, but one reason might be that so many other brands have used Wear OS along the way. It's been done by Motorola, Asus, Fossil, Michael Kors, Misfit, Mobvoi, and, more recently, Samsung. Now it's Google's turn to give it a try.

Google Pixel Watch review

The Pixel Watch was not exactly a secret. After two years of rumors, Google finally confirmed it at its I/O event in May 2022. It's also hard to know what to expect since it's the first time. 

Google wants to show that it knows how to make a nice smartwatch and how to connect it to your phone in a good way. It has a lot going for it, but whether you choose it over others depends on what you value most.

Design and setup of Pixel Watch

From the moment I took the Pixel Watch out of the box to the number of times I've worn it, it's been one of the most attractive watches I've seen. When I rolled up my sleeve to show them, I saw that other people thought it was a simple design with some flair. The rounded shape and single digital crown show that Google went for simplicity. No layouts with more than one button, no touch-sensitive areas with haptic feedback, and no other visual features that stand out.

The Pixel Watch is rated 5ATM for water pressure up to 50 meters deep, but it doesn't protect against dust. This is not a good idea anywhere near sand, but you could take it to the ocean and it would be fine. It's just not as durable as watches from Samsung and Apple, which are its main competitors. This is important because the Pixel Watch is more vulnerable because its 1.2-inch screen and curved glass have no protection around the edges.

 It is made of Gorilla Glass 5, not sapphire crystal, and the body is made of 80% recycled stainless steel.

The watch only comes in one size, which is 41mm.

 You also get two different sizes of straps in the box. The one crown on the side gives you control. You can press it to go back or turn it to move up and down on a menu. Above it is a physical button that lets you jump to your most recently used apps.

The Pixel Watch was easy to set up. I had it ready to go in no time on my Pixel 7 Pro, but I noticed that it wasn't much different on any other Android phone.

Google Pixel Watch review

Google Pixel Watch wears OS 3

Part of the story of software is about the hardware. Google chose older Exynos 9110 and Cortex M33 processors to work together to make tracking features more efficient. All of that is fine and good, but I wonder how long the watch will last after about a year and if Wear OS updates might slow it down. Google says that it won't, but we'll have to see about that.

Anyhow, Wear OS is starting to look like a more mature platform, and I found it easy to use most of the time. All of it has a clear Fitbit vibe, which isn't surprising since Google now owns that brand. 

Swipe down to see notifications or to access the control panel. Swiping to the right or left cycles through the widgets, which include things like exercises, heart rate, sleep, maps, weather, and a calendar. You can find the Play Store by pressing the crown and scrolling down.

 You could also do it from your phone while setting up the watch.

The Pixel Watch app, not the Wear OS app that Google released before, works with the watch. When you first pair the watch with your phone, your phone should automatically download the app. There, you can change a lot of settings, like the watch face, and all of the options are good. You can do the same thing by putting your finger on the watch face and swiping your wrist to move through the options. I like that Google lets you choose what information you want to see (steps, heart rate, etc.) and what colors you want to see it in.

With all that, you also get some other nice things. Google Pay and Google Assistant both work just fine. Even if you can't find your phone, you can make it ring.

Pixel Watch keeps track of exercise and health

About 40 different exercises can be tracked by the Pixel Watch, but none of them start on their own. For whatever exercise you're about to do, you'll have to start logging it manually each time. If you forget, it will just be written down as "activity." Since this watch works with Fitbit instead of Google Fit, it tracks the same things. For example, the Active Zone Minutes system is still in place for the three zones (Fat Burn, Cardio, and Peak). The same thing happens with your steps, calories, sleep tracking, and stress management.

Fitbit even has an ECG (electrocardiogram) app, which can be hard to find on Google Play. It wouldn't come up in a search, so I used a web browser to find it. I don't know why, but setting it up was hard because my Pixel 7 Pro was "not compatible" with the app, even though Canada is listed as one of the supported countries. There will definitely be a way around this, and once I figure it out, I'll update this review.

Google didn't put a lot of health and fitness tracking features in the Pixel Watch. 

The SpO2 sensor is not working, so you won't be able to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood. Without a skin temperature sensor, you won't be able to see any difference there, either. So far, I haven't seen anything like the blood pressure monitor on the Samsung Galaxy Watch5 that I reviewed.

Built-in GPS makes it easy to keep track of distance and route, but this atch doesn't have the same depth and focus as a Garmin watch for runners and golfers. Google's watch lets you track your workouts and some health metrics, but it's more about balance than a specific focus.

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