Google’s Pixel-branded smartwatch was supposedly very close to being a real thing. As detailed in a Business Insider report that interviewed six former employees, Google hardware lead Rick Osterloh reportedly dropped the axe on the idea just ahead of the original Pixel phone’s unveiling in 2016. The main reason for the sudden change in plans, according to an employee who reportedly worked on the project, was because they “didn’t look like what belonged in the Pixel family.”
Google was gearing up for its first big attempt at building an gadget ecosystem, and a former employee said the company feared the watches might “…bring down the name of the Google hardware brand.” Also, one former employees said the syncing process between the Pixel phone and these watches “didn’t work that great.”
But those issues weren’t actually bad enough to keep Google’s watches from launching, according to the report. Rather, Google decided not to put its own name on the LG-manufactured smartwatches. The huge LG Watch Sport, with standalone 4G LTE support, and the slimmer, cheaper LG Watch Style released just a few months later in 2017. Both devices were the first to showcase Google’s Android Wear 2.0 software and Qualcomm’s faster Snapdragon 2100 processor.
Neither watch impressed us when they released, and the report points out data from IDC that they, and all other Wear OS smartwatches released since, didn’t do much to stymie the growth of the Apple Watch and Samsung’s Tizen-powered watches. Wear OS watches account for six percent of the smartwatch market, period.
Google squashed rumors of a Pixel watch again in 2018, but there’s still some hope that Google’s $40 million acquisition of Fossil technology will materialize in a new, flagship watch someday. Based on a new leak, that might come in the form of a hybrid smartwatch (codenamed “Diana”) that, according to a report from Wareable, blends digital and analog technologies. But there’s no indication that any watch will be announced at Google’s October 15th hardware event alongside the Pixel 4, and Business Insider’s sources say it’s not expected to happen.
Several manufacturers have stopped making Wear OS watches over the years, some notable Wear OS apps have disappeared, and Google hasn’t released many new software features lately. Despite this, Fossil and Ticwatch keep making Wear OS watches, and they’re surprisingly decent.