Google scrapped the Pixel Watch in 2016 at the last minute, no watch this year
There has been a lot of talk recently about Google and Wear OS, undoubtedly due to the Apple Watch Series 5. It’s no secret that Wear OS leaves a lot to be desired when compared to the likes of Apple’s Watch OS and even Samsung’s Tizen OS. Reviews of Wear OS devices tend to boil down to great hardware hampered by not-so-great software. Still, Android fans have waited for Google to release their own smartwatch. According to a new report, that very nearly happened in 2016.
If you remember, 2016 was when Google held the inaugural “Made by Google” event. The first Google Pixel and Pixel XL were announced along with the first Google Home speaker, Daydream View headset, Chromecast Ultra, and Google WiFi. According to Business Insider, Google was also planning to announce LG-made “Google Watches.” However, at the last minute, Rick Osterloh, the new Head of Hardware at Google, decided to scrap the launch.
Osterloh was very focused on making sure all the “Made by Google” devices looked like a “family of products.” A former employee said the watches “didn’t look like what belonged in the Pixel family. We didn’t want a peripheral product to bring down the name of the Google hardware brand.” Besides aesthetics, Osterloh also wasn’t happy with how the watches actually functioned. The former employee said the syncing between the watches and Pixel phone “didn’t work that great.” Ouch.
Now, these LG-made smartwatches were pretty far along in development. There had already been rumors of Google launching 2 smartwatches and there were also renders of the devices. Google and LG decided to still go ahead with the watches, but they were not given the “Pixel Watch” or “Google Watch” branding. They came to market as the LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style alongside the launch of Android Wear 2.0.
The report mentions that Google will not have a Pixel Watch smartwatch to share next month. Earlier this year, however, Google paid $40 million for “secret” smartwatch technology from Fossil, one of Wear OS’ biggest supporters. The company has yet to reveal what that technology will be used for, but a leak from earlier this week showed what could be our first look at it. The device above is said to be called the “Fossil Collider DIANA” and it’s a hybrid smartwatch with physical hands and an e-ink display. “Diana” is allegedly Fossil’s name for the Digital + Analog technology that Google purchased.
These watches don’t appear to run traditional Wear OS, but one of the models lists GPS and Google Pay as features. So it’s clear they run some sort of smart wearable OS. As for why they are Fossil-branded, the VP of Product Management at Google explains that their involvement is to help bring the DIANA tech to more partners in the ecosystem.
What does this story mean for Wear OS and the future chances of a “Pixel Watch?” It doesn’t paint a great picture of Google’s confidence in Wear OS as a platform. The fact that they didn’t launch a smartwatch with their name attached because it didn’t meet the high standards of the Pixel series says a lot. However, the Fossil investment and technology could mean something for the future. Just don’t expect to see a smartwatch on October 15th.
Source: Business Insider