Google Pixel Watch: The anti-Apple Watch I've been waiting for? A new default for Android users?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Google Pixel Watch: The anti-Apple Watch I've been waiting for? A new default for Android users?
Leaked Pixel Watch render images courtesy of Roland Quandt

Welcome to Techtober! Coming up – big daddy Google with its Pixel 7 event, starting October 6 at 10am ET. Although the Pixel 7 smartphone series will steal the show, we're also getting something else exciting – Google's first smartwatch – the aptly named Google Pixel Watch!

Just like how an iPhone user jumps immediately to the Apple Watch when they're looking to buy something for their wrist, presumably so will an Android user jump to this upcoming Google Pixel Watch, right?

After all, in terms of smartphone operating systems, Google is Apple's one and only true rival, and it only makes sense that both have rival, exclusive wearable devices, to offer to their users.

Will the Pixel Watch be the perfect smartwatch for the Android user; the one we've been waiting for to truly rival the Apple Watch? We're about to find out very soon, but I'm pretty optimistic in advance… A lot has been leaked about the Pixel Watch, and at least on paper, things are looking good.

Circular design – looks way better than the Apple Watch in my opinion

Right off the bat I must say – good on Google for designing a different smartwatch, instead of just making an Apple Watch clone. Apple Watches are, of course, rounded rectangles, while Google's Pixel Watch has a classic circular watch shape.

And to me, that's the shape every watch, including smartwatches, should be. It's more elegant and stylish, even if it is objectively less practical for a smart device, as a circular screen fits less information than a square or a rectangular one.

To be fair, I'd wager that the circular design here was mostly a product of the fact that prior smartwatches powered by Google's Wear OS operating system, most notably ones by Samsung, are circular too. So the OS itself is already more suited for that screen shape; thus it makes sense that Google went with it.

But whatever Google's reasoning is, it's important that the Pixel Watch will not look like an Apple Watch at all. This shows that Google has confidence in its product, and wants to be a true, distinct rival on the smartwatch market. Not just a follower trying to trick your grandparents into buying its smartwatch, thinking it's an Apple Watch.

Way more customizable!

I've complained about how unimpressive the Apple Watch's fairly few available watch faces look to me, and now its inability to switch to third party watch faces is a big negative. Because of this, every Apple Watch ends up looking somewhat the same.

Now, Apple not giving its users the freedom to go wild with its products isn't a new thing, but thankfully, Google is not so strict. Its Wear OS operating system, which will power the Pixel Watch, does support countless, crazy third party watch face apps. And if you're capable enough, you can even fashion some watch faces yourself from the ground up – and I do love and need this freedom. This ability to make something unique, even if I'm the only one who ends up liking it.

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After all, smartwatches are wearable devices that double as fashion accessories, and being limited to only changing their watch bands or the primary color of a few preset watch faces isn't nearly acceptable enough, in my opinion. The more customizability – the better!

So we already have two wins in a row for the Pixel Watch, at least in theory. Not only does it have the more (subjectively) appealing, classic round watch shape, but what it'll actually be showing on its screen is infinitely more customizable!

The Pixel Watch too has a "Digital Crown" – that's another win!

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This is very important – navigating a smartwatch by just poking at its tiny display with your finger isn't ideal. Some Samsung smartwatches have an awesome rotating bezel, which many of us love, but it results in a bulky watch, and increases its cost to make too.

So what's the next best thing? Well, as usual – Apple knows the answer – it's a rotating side button, or as the Cupertino company inevitably named it – the "Digital Crown".

I'm happy to report that all signs point to the Pixel Watch also having the exact same thing – a rotating side button for easily scrolling through apps and menus on your smartwatch. Poking the screen with a finger will be reserved for just selecting an app, toggles, or other things that require less accuracy, which is ideal.

And Google really seemingly drew some big inspiration from Apple's "Digital Crown", making the one on the Pixel Watch very similar in design too, not just functionality. Those little ridges around the whole thing make it easier to grip and rotate, and I'm hoping the rotating action on the Pixel Watch will be just as satisfyingly clicky as on the Apple Watch.

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Although it's pretty obvious from all the leaked images and teaser videos, this particular promo video above confirms that the Pixel Watch's side button is indeed a rotating "Digital Crown", as we can see someone briefly grabbing it in a way as if about to rotate it.

The new de-facto choice for Android users?

Samsung has long been the one and only "true" rival of Apple, always breathing down the healthy fruit-logo company's neck. Keeping Apple on its toes by constantly releasing not only overkill, packed-full-of-features flagships like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but also unique smartphones that went on to dominate new markets, like the folding Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4.

Of course, Samsung also has tablets, wireless earbuds, smartwatches and pretty much everything else Apple has to offer. And while Samsung is a very worthy foe – let's face it – in a perfect movie about rivalry, the owner of the competitive operating system is who should be Apple's biggest rival.

Apple owns iOS, which iPhones use. Google owns Android, which pretty much all non-Apple smartphones use.

Apple owns WatchOS, which Apple Watches use, Google owns Wear OS, which… Again, a great deal of non-Apple smartwatches use.

Now Google's about to drop hardware too – its own smartwatch – and in theory, all Android users should look to this new product from the one and only Google, when it's time to buy a new smartwatch to use with their Android phone.

For a while now Google's been trying to step up to Apple, possibly pushing Samsung aside, and while the limited availability of its devices is a huge crutch – those Google devices are very promising. The Google Pixel phones have gotten insanely better and more distinct, more unmistakably "Google", and a lot of Android fans are turning their heads.

So will Google secure a win for Android fans with its new Pixel Watch, delivering the perfect de-facto smartwatch for most Android users?

We'll soon find out, but once again – I'm charged with hopeful optimism. The Android world has been in need of a smartwatch from its chief, Google, for a while now. Something that truly equals how Apple is with the Apple Watch… but, you know – it's Google and an Android-only smartwatch instead.

Are you excited for the Google Pixel Watch?

Although Google has plenty of opportunities to screw this up, I remain hopeful and optimistic that I'll finally have a worthy smartwatch from Google, to pick up every time I'm rocking an Android phone.

What about you? Do you have high hopes for the Pixel Watch, or do you expect it to be a disappointment when compared to the Apple Watch?

Stay tuned for our upcoming Pixel 7 event coverage, when we'll learn everything about the Pixel Watch from Google itself.

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