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Will Google's smartwatch set the pulse racing?

Google's smartwatch is likely to be released sometime next year. How different will this wearable be from those being offered by Apple and others? Will it set the pulse racing? Let's find out

smartwatch | fitness wearables | Technology

Khalid Anzar  |  New Delhi 

They now keep a tab on our intimate body functions like heartbeat, sleep pattern, steps taken and calories burnt. Just like the phones, watches have also evolved with . Ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 1 lakh, or even more, the segment is full of varieties being offered by a range of companies like Apple, Samsung, OnePlus, Noise, Boat, etc. Now, according to several reports, internet search giant Google is also set to make its debut.

So far, Google had only been developing software for smartwatches. But now it is moving – slowly but steadily – in the direction of making its own device. In January this year, it acquired the health and fitness device maker Fitbit for a whopping $2.1 billion. Later, in May, it announced collaboration with Samsung to bring the best of Wear OS and Tizen OS in a single, unified platform.

And Google’s efforts towards its wearable business resulted in significant growth in its market share.

According to a recent Counterpoint Research report, Wear OS shipment stood at 17.3% in Q3. This was a significant jump from just 3.1% in the first half of this year, according to IDC.

So, what is Google really trying to achieve with its reported entry into the segment? We spoke to Prabhu Ram, head of Industry Intelligence Group, CyberMedia Research (CMR), to understand.

According to reports, Google was about to launch a Pixel in 2016. But the idea was shelved after the company’s hardware boss Rick Osterloh objected to its design, which he said didn’t look like one from the Pixel family.

In its current form, Google’s Wear OS may have fragmentation issues similar to Android. Samsung, Fossil and Garmin are three big names in the tech industry that use Google Wear OS platform in their respective smartwatches. However, none of them delivers a cohesive experience.

Some of the core functions of the Samsung Galaxy Watch4 running the latest version of Wear OS are restricted to Samsung smartphones. Fossil’s latest-generation smartwatch runs a dated version of Wear OS. The same is the case with Garmin.

So, will Google be able to address the fragmentation issue?

According to media reports, the Google smartwatch is internally codenamed ‘Rohan’, and it is referred to as the ‘Pixel watch’ or ‘Android watch’ by the select Google executives with access to the prototype. The smartwatch has a heart-rate monitor and offers basic health-tracking features such as step counting. As for design, it would have a round case with no physical bezel around the display.

With Facebook planning to come out with its own smartwatch, Google’s wearable device will have to face a tough competition. Its design and ability to strike a chord with customers will play a crucial role in its success. As of now, however, there is no official word from Google.

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First Published: Tue, December 07 2021. 08:30 IST