Google unveils its first smartwatch, alongside flagship smartphone updates
Image credit: reuters
Google has announced it will launch its own own-brand smartwatch for the first time alongside a new flagship smartphone and noise-cancelling earbuds.
The Pixel Watch comes years after Google first introduced its Android Wear platform (later renamed to Wear OS), amid a renewed push to solidify its position in the wearables market, which has long been dominated by Apple and Samsung.
While the watch will not arrive until later this year, official pictures of the device were revealed at its annual Google I/O conference, which showed a rounded body and watch face. It will run the as-yet-unreleased Wear OS 3.1 and uses an industrial design made of recycled steel with a rotating, tactile crown, and customisable bands.
It will also come with NFC for contactless payments, has 4G built-in and an array of fitness sensors that will tie in to its purchase of FitBit, which was finalised last year.
Google also announced the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, new smartphones that will come with its in-house next-gen Tensor chipsets. They have been given a new-look camera design and retain the last generation’s prominent horizontal camera bump.
The Pixel 7 Pro will also have a triple rear camera system and the standard Pixel 7 appears to have two rear cameras, like the standard Pixel 6. Other details are fairly thin on the ground, but it is expected to launch alongside Android 13 sometime in October.
A cheaper mid-range device, the Pixel 6a, was shown off with more details, again featuring Tensor alongside a camera bar on the back.
Google keenly demonstrated its advanced photography skills, especially given the lower price point, which rely heavily on AI enhancements.
Elsewhere, the company announced new earphones called the Pixel Buds Pro, which feature noise-cancelling technology.
Ru Bhikha, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, said Google’s experience in wearable devices gained from acquiring Fitbit and from working on smartwatches with other firms in the past means the Pixel Watch is likely to be a refined product.
“It’s been a long time coming but Google has finally launched a flagship wearable and the Pixel Watch should get your pulse racing,” he said.
“This is perhaps not a surprise following the company’s acquisition of Fitbit last year. After contributing to the software for Wear, the Android operating system for smartwatches, Google now has a timepiece to take on the likes of the Apple Watch 7 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.
“With the growth in fitness trackers it looks like a shrewd move, and the Pixel Watch’s minimalist round design is likely to win admirers.”
The event also included a notable preview of a pair of smartglasses that Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said the company was currently testing and developing.
They combine augmented-reality technology and the firm’s live translation tools to translate the other half of a conversation the user is having, with subtitles appearing on the glasses in real-time so they can understand what is being said.
They are a successor of sorts to Google Glass, which launched in 2012 and were a flop due to their awkward design, limited utility and expensive price.
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