Google's first smartwatch leaks as Apple Watch rival for 2022

Google is gearing up to release its own smartwatch, insiders claim, and it may hit the market next year. The sources allege Google's smartwatch — which has long been rumored under the name "Pixel Watch" — will be designed to compete with the Apple Watch, potentially giving Wear OS the boost it needs to earn back consumer attention.

Pixel Watch details leak

Insider reports that Google is preparing to launch its first smartwatch under its own brand in 2022. The details come from anonymous employees in the company, according to the report. As with any other leak, Google has not commented on the alleged model and its related details.

Assuming the sources are correct, Google is designing a smartwatch that would showcase the latest Wear OS features and compete with the Apple Watch. We don't yet know what this alleged model will be called, but the insiders claim Google has given its watch the codename "Rohan."

Rohan will reportedly feature a round design not unlike what we see with Samsung's Galaxy Watch 4. This would differ from the Apple Watch and from similarly-styled Fitbit wearables, which are now part of Google's wider portfolio.

Insider goes on to claim it viewed renders of the watch showing no physical bezel. As well, it seems that — at a minimum — a prototype version of Rohan exists, as Google employees reportedly have been allowed to use the device for feedback purposes.

Other leaked details include the alleged presence of "basic" health-tracking features, a heart rate monitor, proprietary bands, and a possible Fitbit integration (which would then roll out to Wear OS in general). Less exciting is the claim that Rohan may need to be charged daily, at least based on alleged tester feedback, though that could change before a final product is brought to market.

Why Pixel Watch matters

This isn't the first time we've heard the codename Rohan in association with a Google-branded smartwatch. Back in April, YouTube channel Front Page Tech published a video containing renders allegedly showing the device's design, also claiming it has the internal name Rohan and the product name Google Pixel Watch.

Google's Wear OS has been around for years, but it hardly draws attention from the public, claiming only a minuscule percentage of the smartwatch market. Counterpoint Research reported in November that Wear OS accounted for only 17.3-percent of smartwatch shipments in the third quarter of 2021.

That figure, though still lower than Apple's 21.8-percent, represents a huge jump from the tiny 3.2-percent market share Google's platform held in the same quarter last year. Analysts point toward Samsung as the driving force behind this spike in purchases; the company recently merged its Tizen platform with Wear OS.

While the team-up has proven fruitful for Google, it has also raised questions over whether Wear OS can truly compete against Apple based on Samsung's popularity alone. That's where rumors about Google's own-brand smartwatch come in. Though Samsung produces excellent hardware, Google is in the position of offering more than just a sleek device.

The company may, for instance, launch its own-brand smartwatch with exclusive features — it already does something similar with its Pixel handsets. Those features would likely eventually make their way to other newer watches running Wear OS, but it would take time and consumers often aren't fans of waiting. This may help drive sales, at least initially.

All signs point toward a smartwatch rehashing of familiar history. Google's Pixel smartphones are still relatively new in the Android world, and if you look back a decade, the latest and then-greatest versions of the mobile OS were arriving on flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Google now launches the best Android features on its Pixel smartphones, adding extra appeal that has lured some customers away from Samsung and other big manufacturers. It's doubtful, however, that Google can dominate the smartwatch market alone, and again we can look at the Pixel mobile line as evidence.

Despite high marks from critics, Pixel smartphones aren't dominating the mobile market. In August, Statista published the results of a global survey that found only a tiny percentage of consumers in key markets use Google's own smartphones.

The figures sit at 4.2-percent in Canada, 3.8-percent in the US, and only 2.4-percent in India. Some have speculated that Google's lackluster Pixel marketing (relatively speaking) may be the big reason for this divide, though even that may be part of a bigger strategy (via Wharton).

As for the Pixel Watch, only time will tell whether it gives Google the boost it needs to build upon the foundation Samsung built this year. The sources claim Google may be aiming for a Spring 2022 launch, but also underscore the fact that plans can change, indicating feedback from testers may play a big role in determining when the wearable will hit the market.