Google Pixel Watch was cancelled in 2016 and won't launch in 2019

New report indicates the plug was pulled at the last minute
Google Pixel Watch cancelled in 2016
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A Google-branded smartwatch was canned in 2016 because it didn't play nice with Google's Pixel smartphones, among other problems.

That's according to a report by Business Insider that delves into Google's attempts to make a success of its Wear OS smartwatch platform. Ultimately, its efforts working with numerous hardware partners has come up short against the Apple Watch and growing competition from Samsung, Fitbit and Garmin.

Read this: Best Wear OS smartwatches to buy now

We've been talking about Google building its own smartwatch - dubbed the 'Pixel Watch' - for some time now, and it seems we were very close to seeing it back in 2016.

According to a former employee who was working directly on the project, a Google-branded smartwatch was being made in partnership with LG. In fact, images leaked (above and below) of those devices months before the watches were supposed to launch at the company's first Made By Google event.

Google Pixel Watch was cancelled in 2016 and may never see the light of day

(Images of the unreleased Google-branded smartwatches - image credit: Android Police)

In 2016, Rick Osterloh became Google's vice president of hardware and decided to pull the plug on the watches for multiple reasons. Apparently, he wanted a unified design language across Pixel products and that wasn't the case with these watches.

The former employee who worked on the project the watches said the watches "didn't look like what belonged in the Pixel family" and that that Google didn't want "a peripheral product to bring down the name of the Google hardware brand".

But there was more. There was also performance issues, and even basic things like the watch syncing with Google's phones didn't work great.

Google had apparently already completed a product photoshoot of the watches - giving us a sense of how last minute the project was pulled. Naming, it seems, was still not finalised, either, as the initial name was actually Google Watch. The Pixel name for Google's phones was apparently finalized at a very late stage.

Google Pixel Watch was cancelled in 2016 and may never see the light of day

(LG launched the cancelled Google watches as the Sport and Style in 2017)

So, Google didn't launch these watches, but they did still see the light of day. In 2017, LG launched the LG Watch Sport and the LG Style alongside Android Wear 2.0. We weren't all that blown away by the cheaper and smaller Style, but we did like the Sport a lot and it was at the time the most feature-packed Wear OS watch you could buy. Now we know why.

There are some other fascinating insights into Google's smartwatch strategy, which all started in 2013. Android founder Andy Rubin favoured building a Google-branded watch, but left the division to lead the company's robotics efforts.

With the arrival of Osterloh, other wearable projects were canned, including a "fashion-focused" wearable being developed by Nest CEO Tony Fadell and Ivy Ross, who both worked on Google Glass.

Google does continue to dabble in the wearable hardware space, with its Google Glass AR eyewear now repositioned as a device for enterprise. It did launch VR headsets as well, though things have gone very quiet on that front.

It's also been trying to improve the experience of using its Wear OS watches with iPhones in a bid to eat into some of those Apple Watch sales.

So, will we still see a Pixel Watch? According to Google insiders that Business Insider spoke to, there are no plans for one in 2019. Google has announced a hardware event for 15 October, and it seems any sort of smart wristwear will be absent.

Does that mean Google's interest in smartwatches is waning? Maybe not. The company paid Fossil Group $40 million for secret smartwatch tech that Wareable exclusively revealed is related to hybrid smartwatches.

Whatever it plans to do next, it needs to really make it count.


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