Google Pixel watch : What we know

Google has installed Rick Osterloh, the former head of Motorola’s mobile division, as the new senior vice president of hardware. There’s a dedicated Made by Google site that shows off all the gear, further solidifying that hardware will be a major part of Google’s strategy going forward. Nearly every speaker at the event talked about how Google services and the company’s desire to build a “personal Google” for every user require a deep integration between hardware and software. The tenor of the gathering and the new shift by Google told us this wasn’t a one-off event.

Certainly, a Google smartwatch has been rumoured for a long long time now but until recently there weren’t many substantial evidences. According to Evan Blass, a reputable leakster, two new Google smartwatches are up for launch in  Q1 2017.

The two smartwatches — first rumored in July this year — will launch running Android Wear 2.0 which was also supposed to be arriving this year but has been pushed back to Q1 of 2017.  So here’s everything that we know so far, or at least think we know.

The watches are reportedly codenamed Angelfish and Swordfish. This is quite similar to the Pixel and Pixel XL which were codenamed Sailfish and Marlin. All these names feature some sort of fish for some reason.  Angelfish is the larger of the two.

Google isn’t expected to stick with these names though. Until recently, the watches were just branded “Nexus Watch” by the media, but as the company replaced its Nexus smartphone line with the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL, there’s a chance that Google will ditch the Nexus branding for these too. Whether they’re given the Nexus moniker or not, they will undoubtedly be launched with the Nexus spirit of being completely optimised for all that Android Wear has to offer.

Design

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Image Credit: Android Police

The larger and more spec-tastic of the two, Angelfish (left ), is claimed to measure 43.5mm in diameter and as you can see, its large crown button is quite prominent, with the smaller “shoulder” buttons above and below it being much shorter. The watch face appears to be a new iteration of Google’s new customizable faces in Android Wear 2.0, with an impressive if possibly overwhelming level of information density. The larger model also appears to have a much thicker, darker metal casing with fitting for a wider watch strap.

The smaller watch, Swordfish, is 42mm, similar to the Huawei Watch and 2nd gen Moto 360. It appears that this model only has the one, oddly-designed button on the right edge. Despite its case diameter only being 1.5mm narrower than the larger model, the watch strap is quite noticeably much narrower, by at least 4-5mm. Swordfish has a clean, smooth look to it as opposed to the chunkier Angelfish.

If one was to generalise it, we could assume that perhaps the more rounded, less angular model with a thinner strap was designed with a female target market in mind, while the bigger version is supposedly more “masculine”.

Nothing has yet been specifically mentioned about the Nexus Watch displays in terms of exact dimensions. However, Android Police noted that the screen would be slightly smaller than the Moto 360, and will have a small black gap between where the watch body ends and visible display begins to avoid a section being cut-off. In other words, the screen will have a slim black ring around the edges, but thankfully won’t have a hideous “flat tyre”.

As for size and resolution, any mention of those would be completely speculative. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a display similar in size and resolution to the Huawei Watch which features a 400 x 400 resolution 1.4-inch circular display boasting a pixel density of 286ppi (pixels per inch).

Most Android Wear smartwatches use Qualcomm chips, Google itself has been a long time partner of Qualcomm for its Nexus devices so it makes sense that the Pixel watches should use the newest Snapdragon 2100 chip designed specifically for wearables. That is, of course, unless Qualcomm announces a new processor in between now and when the watches hit the market, which wouldn’t be surprising. More interestingly, as well as being different in design and size, the Angelfish and Swordfish are predicted to offer different features to each other. As you can imagine, that means you’ll see more packed in to Angelfish.

Angelfish is quite thick, around the same as the Urbane LTE, likely owing to a larger battery necessitated by its LTE-ready chipset.  Angelfish will have GPS, LTE, and a heart-rate monitor, giving it the ability to be a true “standalone” Android Wear device. In other words, you won’t need to have your phone on you all the time to make use of it while the smaller Swordfish will still need a phone to work with.

With Android Wear 2.0 featuring the ability to have apps natively installed on the watches, you’d expect that also means a slight jump in available storage space: 4GB could be enough, but 8GB would ensure users don’t get storage anxiety.

Software

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As previously mentioned, both the smartwatches are expected to be running Android Wear 2.0 which Google announced at Google I/O 2016 this summer.

Android Wear 2.0 features – among other things – standalone native apps so that your watch is less reliant on your smartphone. It also has a more advanced messaging system, which allows you to scribble or type replies on the touchscreen, as well as a refreshed app launcher screen.

The fitness app and notifications have also seen something of a design revamp, plus, advanced complications means you can have all kinds of information showing on your watch face, regardless of which watch face it is.

Launch and Pricing

Again, as mentioned, the watches are expected to arrive in Q1 2017 which is to say anywhere between January 1st to the end of March. Prices will likely be similar to current Android Wear watches. I’d expect the smaller 42mm model to cost between $250-$400, while the larger model will likely cost more than $400. Unless of course Google decides to return to its Nexus roots and offer them at close to cost price, making them ultra-affordable. Seems unlikely however.

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