Last month, Google unveiled its first ever smartwatch and we've had the opportunity to give it a test run.
As someone who has been using a Fitbit for years I was excited to see what Google came up with after merging the best of Fitbit's health tracking capabilities with Google's Wear OS in its brand new Pixel Watch.
And I was definitely not disappointed. Though there are a few hiccups one might expect in a first-generation smartwatch, overall the Pixel Watch stands apart from Samsung's suite of Galaxy watches enough that it almost feels like an Apple Watch for Android users.
The new 41 mm Google Pixel Watch features a circular, domed-shaped Gorilla Glass display that's scratch- and water-resistant. I wore it during a two-week holiday to the US that included horse riding, 4wdriving and two days at a theme park hitting up roller coasters and there is not a mark on it.
It does promises up to 24 hours of battery life but when I compare it to how long a Fitbit can last these days as soon as you decide to do anything on it during that time the battery life left a little to be desired.
The battery only just lasts long enough on a day-to-day basis when you have the screen always on, the health-monitoring features active, and the "bedtime mode" with sleep tracking overnight.
But if you track any exercise during the day, or in my case clock up over 30,000 steps traipsing around Disneyland, then the watch won't last the night, meaning you will have to charge it before bed to track your sleep. Good news is you'll get 50 per cent battery back in just 30 minutes.
The watch certainly looks and feels well made, and is comfortable to wear. Despite being quite thick, its smooth finish slides under shirts and jumpers without issue.
It also assists with emergency SOS and supports a handful of Google services, including Google Wallet, Gmail and calendar updates.
Combining all of this with Fitbit's tracking capabilities, was certainly the highlight, as the Pixel Watch can monitor a user's heart rate and sleep quality, offers 40 workout modes, and learns user behaviour over time.
READ MORE: A beginner's guide to smartwatches
The experience is very similar to what you get on Fitbit's Versa and Sense fitness trackers, providing steps, calories, sedentary alerts, all-day heart rate and ECGs, but no irregular heartbeat notifications, temperature sensor or fall detection yet.
And the sleep tracking is good, with cycles, breathing rate and heart-rate variability all recorded.
It's a feature the Apple Watch always fell a little short on, due to the need to add additional apps in order to track sleep, and very rarely did the battery last long enough for that.
Plus, if you add a Fitbit premium subscription you get even more information about your sleep habits, including a monthly sleep profile. I tend to bounce between a bear and a tortoise it seems.
Because the watch does so much and is essentially integrating the best of two different worlds, it can take some time to set up. But once everything is optimised it's incredible easy to use and very responsive. (though there is not much hope of using the on-screen keyboard to respond to any messages with adult-sized fingers!)
It will work with most Android phones with access to the Google Play Store but not with Apple's iPhone. And while you can get it in a 4G LTE option that is only currently through Telstra.
Google Pixel Watch starts at $549 (Bluetooth®/ Wi-Fi) and is available at the Google Store, Officeworks and Harvey Norman. The 4G LTE version is available for $649 at the Google Store and Telstra. Accessory bands start from $69.
As someone who has for many years refused to switch completely over to Apple (though my iPod is still going strong), the Google Pixel Watch seems to bridge that gap a little, though it is priced a little higher than the Galaxy Watch by Samsung.
And yet, the way it merges the best of Fitbit with Google's Wear OS, could just make it my favourite watch yet – now we just need to work on the battery life!
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