Ah, the mythical Google Pixel Watch. This creature supposedly lives in Rumorville where it is often discussed from August through October. During the 10th month of the year, believers gather to await its appearance, but so far it has never come forth to dazzle us. Sure, there have been times when we thought the Pixel Watch might surface such as last year when Google purchased $40 million of "innovative" smartwatch intellectual property from Fossil. While some Fossil engineers were included in the transaction, the IP covered a new UI for hybrid watches. In other words, Google delivered a buzzkill.
Will this be another year of disappointment for Pixel fans?
Alphabet agreed to buy smartwatch and fitness tracker Fitbit for $2.1 billion last November. That deal, though, has yet to receive final regulatory approval. ETN is now reporting that Google has asked Samsung to produce a movement tracker chip that might be used on a wearable device-like a watch. The report says that the semiconductor ordered by Google will go into a sensor that measures body movements. These chips aren't created overnight which means that either the mythical Pixel Watch remains mythical this year, or any feature powered by the aforementioned sensor won't be included on the timepiece if one is indeed released this year.Smartwatch watchers felt their pulses quicken when Google parent
There are other possibilities of course. It is possible that the sensor is going to be used on a phone, or perhaps a Fitbit smartwatch or fitness tracker. And there is a chance that the chip is being designed for a sensor that will be used on wearOS.
Samsung will be responsible for the chip's design. Usually, a foundry manufactures a semiconductor designed by the client. An example of this would be the upcoming A14 Bionic which was designed by Apple and is being manufactured by TSMC. The latter is the largest independent foundry on the planet and Samsung's foundry is number two. It is possible that by designing the chip and producing it, Sammy is trying to go the extra mile in an attempt to unseat TSMC. ETNews also mentions a second chip that Samsung will roll off of the assembly line for Google, but the nature of this component is not known.
The smartwatch business remains robust with Q1 shipments up 12% year-over-year, and Google might desire a seat at the bar. There are a few million Pixel users who would love to purchase a Pixel Watch and you just know that Google will add some features that only Pixel owners will have access to. Apple and Samsung have a head start but if the purchase of Fitbit is completed, that would give Google plenty of experience and make it a credible player in the game.
One thing that will need work is wearOS. Google even cited the shortcomings of its smartwatch operating system as a reason for not introducing a Pixel Watch in 2018. But last month there was some good news on this front. The 2018 Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset is being replaced by the new Snapdragon Wear 4100 chip. Qualcomm also introduced the Snapdragon Wear 4100+. The new chips will come with an improved CPU, GPU, memory, cellular modem, and camera system and should help Google improve wearOS.
According to Qualcomm, the 12nm Snapdragon Wear 4100+ will deliver 85% faster performance than the Snapdragon Wear 3100. It will be equipped with four Cortex-A53 CPU cores, the Adreno 504 GPU, faster LPDDR3 RAM memory, and dual Image Signal Processing that supports 16-megapixel cameras. One of the first smartwatches to have the Snapdragon Wear 4100 inside will be the next-gen TicWatch Pro.
In 2018 and 2019, things lined up for the introduction of a Google Pixel Watch. But as we saw both times, Google failed to deliver the goods. Something like that just might happen again this year even though, as usual, there are signs that the mythical Pixel Watch lives.