It’s well known that the Apple Watch isn’t a watch – it’s a cutting-edge medical and fitness wearable that also tells the time. Every September, Tim Cook relays stories from regular consumers of how the Apple Watch saved their lives, and it seems like Google’s borrowing a page from its biggest rival. The Pixel Watch 2 made its official debut today and the one thing that stood out was how Google was integrating FitBit into the Pixel Watch to make it an effective health wearable… but that wasn’t all. Aside from just being a flagship fitness and health-monitoring watch, Google also leaned heavily into its AI expertise to make the Pixel Watch 2 a powerful smart wearable. In a rare first, Apple may have pioneered the health wearable… but thanks to its AI abilities, Google is perfecting it.
Google’s parent company Alphabet announced its bid to acquire FitBit in 2019 – a process that was finally completed in 2021. At the time, it seemed odd, given that Google didn’t have a single fitness wearable or smartwatch of its own… but nearly 4 years after its initial announcement, the Pixel Watch 2 is revealing the payoffs of that collaboration.
The Pixel Watch 2 boasts the same teardrop design as its predecessor, but with new hardware and software upgrades. On the software front, the Watch 2 has support for new apps like Gmail and Calendar along with improvements to YouTube Music, Google Assistant, and third-party apps like WhatsApp, Audible, etc. It now also sports the Safety Check feature that Google introduced last year with the Pixel 7 smartphone, allowing your watch to notify your emergency contacts if you don’t respond within a certain time frame – perfect for students, commuters, or anyone who needs a guardian/friend/family member to check in on them.
The hardware upgrade involves an improved heart-rate monitor that is 10x more efficient and accurate than the one on the 1st Gen Pixel Watch, thanks to Google opting for a multi-path sensor that works in tandem with an improved ML algorithm. The watch also has a skin temperature sensor and a continuous electrodermal activity sensor for measuring sleep quality as well as detecting changes in emotion like the feeling of stress.
Where the Pixel Watch 2 really begins overtaking the Apple Watch is in how it deals with the data it gathers from its hardware and sensors. A new and improved AI Assistant now offers a much more intuitive approach to tracking your health. Fitness data gets logged into the Watch 2’s new Fitbit app, with a redesigned interface for the smartphone… but what’s really impressive is the AI’s ability to parse that data in much more meaningful ways. You can now ask the Fitbit app whether there was any improvement between yesterday’s and today’s exercise routine, or if it notices any anomalies in your fitness based on your performance. This new AI-driven approach offers much better insights into your fitness in ways that the Apple Watch probably can’t. Sure, the Watch and Watch Ultra can gather your health and exercise data in expert ways, but what they truly lack is that layer of AI that lets you ‘talk to your data’ to learn things that you probably wouldn’t by simply looking at a chart, graph, or app.
The Watch 2 comes made using recycled aluminum (yet another page from the Carbon Neutral Apple playbook), and sports a 24-hour battery life despite its always-on display. It has the same strap attachment system, so you can use existing straps from the previous model with your new wearable. Each Pixel Watch 2 comes with 6 months of Fitbit Premium, and a month of YouTube Music Premium free, and sports a $349 price tag.