Google's Pixel Watch Apparently Had An iPhone 4 Moment

Google's Pixel Watch is one of the most-anticipated smartwatches out there at the moment. Although Google makes Wear OS, it has yet to actually launch its own smartwatch hardware running the operating system. It's not to say Google isn't in the wearables hardware space, though — the company acquired Fitbit back in January 2021, and it remains a leading maker of wearable hardware. Rumors of a Pixel Watch to accompany Google's Pixel Phones have been circulating for some time now, and it looks like those rumors of its existence are starting to collide with the reality of a launch. The Pixel Watch has been spotted in the wild after a Google employee apparently had something of an iPhone 4 moment.

Back when the iPhone 4 was the hottest upcoming smartphone on the market in 2010, an Apple engineer inadvertently left his prototype iPhone 4 at a bar. Although disguised with an iPhone 3GS-like outer casing, some tinkering quickly revealed the entire new iPhone 4 design. For a company as secretive as Apple, especially when it comes to upcoming product announcements, it was a massive story at the time. The entire dramatic design change was revealed to the world months before it was due to be unveiled. The whole affair turned quite ugly as Apple naturally wanted its device back and called in the lawyers and the police after the finder sold the iPhone 4 to a journalist for $5,000, rather than return it to Apple.

What happened and what do we know?

The new Pixel Watch snafu reported by Android Central hasn't involved any legal entanglements at this stage, but the person who found the Pixel Watch in the wild has decided to remain anonymous all the same. Like the iPhone 4, which was left in a bar by an Apple employee, the Pixel Watch was left in an unnamed restaurant in the U.S. (presumably by a Google employee). The design of the purported Pixel Watch aligns closely with leaked specifications and renders of the device that have previously surfaced. This tends to suggest that we are in fact looking at the real deal in the accompanying photos.

It features a very simplistic and elegant circular design with a crown that could work similarly to the Digital Crown in the Apple Watch, although that remains to be determined. It also features a couple of discreet buttons built into the casing that is very similar to other Wear OS watches we've seen in recent years. The Pixel Watch also appears to have interchangeable bands, as is the norm for smartwatches, although the design here seems to suggest the bands will be proprietary. The underside reveals what looks like standard heart rate tracking sensors — which is to be expected given it is also standard equipment in smartwatches these days. That said, a recent leak also suggests that Google will include Fitbit health tracking features with the Pixel Watch to really beef up its health monitoring credentials.

When will the Pixel Watch finally launch?

A couple of key questions remain unanswered about the Pixel Watch. The first centers around the silicon powering the device and what that might mean for performance and battery life. The standard chipset found in Wear OS smartwatches currently is Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 4100+. Samsung's Galaxy Watch4 series is powered by an in-house Exynos W920. Google, of course, partnered with Samsung on the development of its semi-custom Tensor SoC for the Pixel 6 series. Given Google's custom silicon ambitions, it is possible the Pixel Watch also adopts a similar bespoke approach, but only time will tell if this is the case.

The second key question that remains unanswered is when Google plans to release the device. When the original rumors of its existence surfaced, it had been expected to launch alongside the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Google's next big event is Google I/O, its annual developer conference. This is scheduled to take place online early next month and runs from May 11 to May 12. It certainly wouldn't surprise to see Google finally unveil the device here and no doubt developers will be hoping that Google might give them a freebie in the hopes it will encourage them to build apps for it. Failing an appearance at Google I/O, Google's next big event will be the expected launch of the Pixel 7 series in October later this year.