During the same month, Google parent Alphabet received FDA approval for the electrocardiogram (ECG) feature on its Verily Study Watch. This is a timepiece available by prescription to health care pros and those with a known heart issue. Considering that Verily is a research organization owned by Google's parent, we could see an ECG monitor become a native feature on Wear OS, and possibly a feature of the Google Pixel Watch. The Apple Watch series 4 comes with an ECG monitor to look for abnormal heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation (AFib); this is a serious condition that can lead to strokes, blood clots, and death. It is the breakout feature of Apple's most recent smartwatch model.
Yesterday, another big piece of the Pixel Watch puzzle surfaced when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a patent it awarded to Google. Spotted by Patently Apple, the patent covers a clasp that is designed to allow users to quickly change the band on their watch. This mechanism would allow a Google Pixel Watch to rival the Apple Watch when it comes to quick band changes. The patent illustrations show the use of a magnet in one mechanism, while another uses a button that releases the clasp from the timepiece.
The patent was originally filed by Google during the second quarter of 2017. And while Google I/O is running from May 7th through May 9th, we wouldn't expect to see a Pixel Watch unveiled by Google until October. That is when the company traditionally introduces the latest high-end Pixel handsets (which will be the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL this year) and any new hardware that it has to offer-like a smartwatch perhaps.
A Googe Pixel Watch will have to be first to receive new Wear OS updates
Without a smartwatch of its own, Google has watched as Apple has turned the Apple Watch into the most popular smartwatch and wearable in the world. And with Apple planning to add new health features to the device, a Pixel Watch will have a tough battle ahead of it. In order for Google to be competitive with Apple in a category that the latter now controls, it will need to take advantage of a feature where Google is considered well ahead of Apple. That would be Google Assistant. The virtual digital helper has been anointed by many as the best in its class and ahead of Siri. Since Google Assistant is already available on Wear OS, Google's operating system for wearable devices, it would behoove the company to come up with some special capabilities for Assistant on the Pixel Watch.
The Pixel smartphone brand is reportedly the fastest growing in the U.S. and is known for fast updates and excellent cameras. Google will have to make sure that a Pixel Watch gets the first crack at Wear OS updates and new builds. Google might also want to use the watch to add to the Google ecosystem that now includes its popular Google Home line of smart speakers and smart displays.
Based on the illustrations that Google included with the filing, it would appear that the odds favor a round display for the Google Pixel Watch.
Images from Google's patent application with the USPTO