Now, it has been revealed that Google is working on a dedicated Pixel Watch app to help control the new wearable from a paired Android smartphone.
This is much like how iPhones have a dedicated Apple Watch app, and signifies how Google wants the Pixel Watch to operate differently to other watches running the company’s Wear OS software. This approach is similar to how the Google Pixel Buds earphones have their own app, instead of relying on Android’s existing audio controls.
Mentions of the Pixel Watch app were discovered by 9to5Google, having delved into the latest beta of the Google Play Services software, which is version 22.22.
As well as a Pixel Watch app, mentions of a ‘Smart Unlock’ system were also unearthed. Having managed to forcibly enable a new settings page for this feature, a screen describing how it works was revealed. The page states: “When your watch is unlocked, on your wrist, and close to your phone, it’ll unlock this phone.”
The page also makes references to the Pixel Watch, suggesting this will be a unique feature of Google’s first smartwatch. It looks like the unlock system will work a lot like Apple’s, where the Apple Watch can be used to unlock the owner’s nearby iPhone, so long as the wearable is unlocked and on their wrist.
This should mean that owners of a Pixel phone and Pixel watch can unlock the former without using their fingerprint, passcode, or any other form of authentication – as long as their Pixel Watch is unlocked, nearby, and on their wrist.
We suspect that, like the Apple Watch, when the Pixel Watch can’t detect a heartbeat it will assume it is no longer on the owner’s wrist, and the Smart Unlock system will be disabled.
As ever, there is no guarantee that features found buried in beta software will actually see the light of day. Google might also delay the Smart Unlock feature until after the Pixel Watch arrives. However, we feel confident this simple but useful feature will be available at launch.