Google didn't announce a Pixel Watch this year, because Wear OS is just not good enough

Google didn't announce a Pixel Watch this year, because Wear OS is just not good enough
Remember the Google Pixel Watch? The wearable that was supposed to elevate Wear OS (née Android Wear) to the peerage of Samsung and Apple smartwatches? The device that was supposed to usher in a new era of Android-powered wearables that would offer premium hardware paired with top-notch software, in order to deliver the best possible user experience? Well, forget all about that.

Despite many rumors about the existence of the Pixel Watch coming from reliable sources over the past months, the Internet search giant's in-house developed smartwatch was a no-show at this year's "Made by Google" event. Why? Simply because Google doesn't deem Wear OS ready for the Pixel treatment.

Android smartwatches are not in a good place right now. They haven't been for years. Due to fizzling popularity and dwindling sales, Google earlier this year made the decision to rebrand Android Wear as Wear OS, in hopes that it would be able to turn a new page and regain its foothold in a market dominated by Apple and Samsung. The rebranding was a necessary move, considering that every third Android smartwatch was being paired with an iPhone, and reflects a broader trend at Google of striving to remove the Android moniker from cross-platform services. But rebranding a product is one thing. Reinventing it is something else entirely.

One of the things that held back Android smartwatches in the past was their very foundation – the technology inside. Up until Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon Wear 2100 in 2016, Android smartwatches were powered by a modified Snapdragon 400 smartphone chip. It wasn't good, and although the 2100 changed things for the better, it too was in dire need of a replacement. Luckily, Qualcomm in September launched the Snapdragon 3100 – a promising next-gen chipset built for wearables from the ground-up.

But even the new silicon and the revamped operating weren't enough to warrant the release of a Pixel Watch. In an interview with Tom's Guide in late August, Miles Barr, Google's director of engineering for Wear OS, said that Google was focused on improving the operating system and working with partners to get products out of the gate before the end of 2018. These partners include revered brands like Fossil and Casio, but the way Google is going about it is indicative of the company's doubts about Wear OS. Google is testing the waters through its partnership with other brands, knowing that the OS is still not ready for a Pixel.


That's not necessarily a bad thing, as Google is at least actively trying to iron out the many flaws of Wear OS—chief amongst which poor battery life—before it releases its own hardware. It's just the thought that all upcoming Wear OS releases will be sort of like one big, open beta test that is not very pleasing.

Google, by all means, has both the ambitions and the backing of leading fashion and tech brands needed to achieve its final vision for Wear OS. Android smartwatches may not be in a good place right now, despite the revamped software and new hardware from Qualcomm, but there is hope for the platform in the future. We just hope that Google's large-scale beta test of Wear OS through releases from other brands won't taint the image of Android for wearables even further.

One of Google's main aims with Wear OS is to move away from version numbers. The company hopes that this would allow it to keep rolling out improvements on a regular basis, instead of yearly. This approach could help vastly improve the operating system in a shorter period of time. So, even if you buy a "beta" Wear OS watch in the coming months, at least you won't be waiting a whole year for an update that fixes a handful of problems (and introduces others).

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21 Comments

1. cmdacos

Posts: 4333; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

No kidding...

11. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

Wear OS can do a hell of a lot more than watch OS. That's a guarantee. If you looked at development for both platforms, then you would know what I am saying is the truth. The real problem with a lot of Wear OS watches is they don't include all the hardware you would like to get in a smart watch. Some are missing a GPS, or heat rate monitor, some even only have splash resistance, some have no speakers. So it's a mixed bag out their, but the OS itself has everything and more. Lately there is some Wear OS watches that have all that.

14. RaidR

Posts: 39; Member since: Oct 12, 2018

Agreed! Maybe that's why some of us were hopeful of a Pixel watch. But I am hopeful for the Huawei GT release.

15. Feanor

Posts: 1420; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

According to articles it will be running proprietary OS by Huawei, will be compatible only with Huawei phones and it will probably have zero app support. Also I think it will be a cheat in battery life, because it seems that Huawei will heavily publicize battery longevity in battery saving mode, whereas in normal mode the Watch looks like it will have a normal battery life (or less if the 22 hour life is confirmed. This is really horrible battery life comparing to Wear OS).

24. RaidR

Posts: 39; Member since: Oct 12, 2018

Wow! They did an about face! It rumored earlier that they would be running Wear OS. I am sadden by this news.

2. Feanor

Posts: 1420; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Wear OS is bad because the tech media has been telling us so for quite some time now. Actually feature by feature Wear OS is on par or ahead of the competition. The fact that tech companies are abandoning Wear OS has nothing to do with the OS but with their image issues that result into poor sales. Traditional watchmakers have adopted it but not moved technology forward because it's not their business field. That doesn't make the OS bad per se. If you want to see the current Wear OS watches as beta tests for a hypothetical Pixel watch, is because press wants to see it this way and subliminally they want a Pixel Watch to match feature by feature (i.e. copy) the Apple Watch, which in turn generates sales driven purely based on image. 'nough said.

3. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Leave the smartwatch to Tizen. It's awful as a smartphone OS but awesome as a wearable OS. More and more people are interested in an Android smartwatch but they find it too scarce and expensive too. Consumers see Android as a cheap but competitive OS, so should the Wear OS.

16. AbhiD

Posts: 856; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

That can be one of the worst jokes ever! Tizen is crap. It has so much security holes that anyone can siphon off your data from it. It's a blot on the face of software world.

18. iushnt

Posts: 3156; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Tizen is great in the Galaxy watch. Now, u don’t have to believe everything on the internet and be a patient of ‘Privacyphobia’

4. P20prouser

Posts: 44; Member since: Oct 10, 2018

I still like my moto 360 2nd gen and sony smart watch 3

5. surethom

Posts: 1730; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Wear os is in decline because manufacturers are just making big thick black sports watches. If they went down the stainless steel classic design that is thinner like the Huawei W1 thousands more would be sold.

8. Feanor

Posts: 1420; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

This is totally not true. Wear OS is the OS with the sexiest smartwatches, like TAG Heuer but also cheaper options from Fossil and Skagen. Apple Watch is extremely poor design-wise in comparison to some Wear OS watches. Wear OS is in decline because people don't know the existence of the Wear OS watches: for most people a smartwatch is an electronic device with questionable usability, so they either buy Apple (which can sell anything that can make an Appley fashion statement) or nothing. Samsung is somewhere in between because their image is also somewhere in between; a recognised tech brand but without the Apple cool factor. If thickness, design or battery life had actually anything to do with poor sales, then Apple Watch would have hit rock bottom.

6. Elvis358

Posts: 270; Member since: Mar 25, 2018

So why aren't they making it good? LoL

7. ikenvape

Posts: 309; Member since: May 28, 2014

I love how this article proclaims opinions as facts. Wear os isn't bad. I don't know why media Outlets despise it so much. I've been an avid user since day one. Pro -When playing music, music controls and time are at the front -Wear os voice to text is 98% accurate in loud settings - Responding to notifications via emoji, text or voice is a breeze -2 day battery life -Gestures always work Needs work -Google Assistant latency

9. ssallen

Posts: 214; Member since: Oct 06, 2017

Yeah, this is ridiculous. Is Wear OS best in class? Absolutely not, but 95% of what users do with smartwatches WearOS does as well. With third party watch faces (which the competition lacks) and the best styling (due to so many different manufacturers) WearOs is in a good (not great) place. If only Qualcomm would put out a decent silicon update. 3100 is not exactly a substantial update. As for the health features on the the new iWatch? Its for geriatrics, its not swaying me at all.

10. Feanor

Posts: 1420; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Exactly: the killer feature of the Apple Watch which left everyone speechless (the ECG) is a USA only feature, which has no medical approval (clearance is not approval, you can get any nutritional supplements that have no proven effectiveness at all and they are still cleared by FDA). Wear OS is really not in such a bad place as the rumour mill would have us believe, at least from a technological point of view. It's just not generating sales, but for unrelated reasons (basically image and people's predisposition as to which OEM is eligible to build a good smartwatch).

12. Godlymansean

Posts: 339; Member since: Apr 14, 2017

lowkey bummed about this. Feel like they could make a great watch, but maybe in the future with better OS

13. Reybanz88

Posts: 102; Member since: Jul 28, 2016

I've used Wear OS since the original Moto 360 and I love it. It's a very capable OS I can't even leave my house without my smartwatch. I truly do not understand why people like the ugly Apple watch over any of the beautiful Wear OS watches. I have 3 of them for 3 different reasons. One is sports oriented, one is metal and gold for when I wear suits and the last one is regular metal with a leather strap. All have a round screen and eveytime someone sees them they are oooing and ahhing over it asking where did I get it.

17. DFranch

Posts: 558; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

I'm just waiting for battery life to get better. Once smartwatches get a week between charges I'll finally get one. I would never get an apple watch, they look like a phone company designed a watch. I'm sure apple's software is great, but the watch is ugly.

21. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3166; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Samsung is enjoying more success than Wear OS because their UI is noticeably better and their app is much more refined. I can't understand how Apple and Samsung haven't consolidated their device management app into their respective health app. Fitbit did and I defy anyone to come up with a more inclusive app. Well, Microsoft did but we all know how that ended up.

22. youssef44

Posts: 547; Member since: Apr 29, 2014

I don't think so, i think because Google couldnt find and create new things for the markt and then they deceided to wait till the next year!

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