OPINION: After years in development and a near endless amount of leaks and rumours, the Pixel Watch was finally announced today and while it’s exciting to see Google’s wearable step into the limelight, the real draw lies in Google’s pledge to finally make good on its ownership of Fitbit.
Ever since Google acquired Fitbit, we’ve wondered exactly how the search engine giant might look to use Fitbit’s tech and ecosystem in its own devices – the company already hinted in last year’s Google I/O that Fitbit would be integrated into the new Wear OS 3 software, but neglected to go into specifics. While a few details are still yet to be revealed, we now have a clearer picture of how Fitbit will operate on the Pixel Watch, and trust me when I say that it could be the silver bullet to take down the Apple Watch.
For starters, Fitbit’s Active Zone Minutes (AZM) will make an appearance on the Pixel Watch. Anyone who’s used a Fitbit device before will know that AZM helps to streamline the fitness tracking process by paying greater attention to your performance week on week as opposed to daily. This allows for a system that’s far more forgiving when you have some work days that are busier than others as you can make up your progress later on before the week’s end.
This has always been a killer feature on Fitbit’s devices and it’s laid out so clearly that I still recommend the Fitbit Versa 3 as the ideal fitness watch to go for if you’re just starting out. This isn’t the only part of Fitbit’s ecosystem to carry over however, as dedicated sleep tracking and continuous heart rate monitoring will also be implemented.
In my experience, the only thing holding the Fitbit devices back has been their chops as a smartwatch. Fitbit’s app store is abysmal and the smart assistant functionality just isn’t as intuitive as it is on the Apple Watch 7 but if Google can successfully implement the best aspect of Fitbit’s devices into its own wearable (powered by Wear OS 3), then it could be the perfect blend that we’ve been waiting for.
After all, the Apple Watch – while impressive in its approach to fitness tracking – still doesn’t hold a candle to the amount of information offered to users by Fitbit, particularly if you have a Fitbit Premium account. Similarly, last year’s Galaxy Watch 4 showed just how powerful Wear OS 3 can be, and while I enjoyed the new health monitors enabled by the hardware, it wasn’t helped by the fact that Google Fit felt outdated even several years ago.
Even now, I find myself jumping between smartwatches and fitness trackers fairly often, unable to find the perfect middle ground in either, but that practice may come to an end with the Pixel Watch. If Google can push the boat out even further by including on-the-watch workouts and access to some of Fitbit’s wellness activities, the race to have the next best smartwatch could be a done deal.