There's nothing that compares to the Apple Watch, but I'm hopeful Google's Fitbit acquisition will change that
- There's little doubt that the Apple Watch is more appealing than most smartwatches, whether they run Google's Wear OS or their own operating systems like Fitbit's Fitbit OS.
- Apple Watches are appealing for their design, deep integration with the Apple ecosystem, and health and fitness monitoring features.
- Most smartwatches running on Google's Wear OS lack the comprehensive health and fitness monitoring features of the Apple Watch.
- Fitbit's smartwatches lack a high-end design and deep integration with any ecosystem.
- Together, Google and Fitbit could actually create a viable competitor to the Apple Watch. But it's still unclear what smartwatches will be like with the two companies under one proverbial roof.
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I just searched "Google watch saves life," and all the results are about Apple Watches (supposedly) saving lives. There's no mention of "Apple" in my search term.I'm an Android user and fairly entrenched in the Google ecosystem, but I want in on the Apple Watch's passive heart and health monitoring features that can give you some information about your health without actively being into fitness and tracking.
But today, I'm specifically talking about Google and Fitbit.
With Google's acquisition of Fitbit for $2.1 billion on Friday, there's perhaps a glimmer of hope for smartwatches and the Google ecosystem. If any company that's not Apple can deliver those appealing Apple Watch features to a Google-powered smartwatch, it's most likely Fitbit.Indeed, a search for "Fitibit saves life" reveals actual results related to Fitbit smartwatches (again, supposedly) saving lives. Fitbit's smartwatches are primarily focused on fitness and health, and they have similar heart and health monitoring features to the Apple Watch. And Fitbit watches are already compatible with the Android ecosystem, as well as the Apple ecosystem.
So why don't I just get a Fitbit, then?
To be perfectly honest, I haven't tried a Fitbit recently because I'm not really interested in them. They might have the features I'm looking for, but I don't like the design of their best-looking smartwatch, the Versa 2. And I'm looking for complete integration with the Google ecosystem. Fitbit smartwatches might be compatible with the Android ecosystem, but they still run on Fitbit's own operating system, Fitbit OS.
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
In a perfect world, at least my perfect world, Google's resources and ecosystem combined with Fitbit's focus on health and fitness could form an actual competitor to the Apple Watch. The combination might perhaps even produce the fabled Pixel Watch.
But it's not exactly clear how the acquisition will play out over time. Will Fitbit be merged into Google's smartwatch efforts, thus creating a Google/Fitibit hybrid smartwatch that's deeply integrated into the Android ecosystem? Or will Google's resources help Fitbit on its own journey?Google's senior vice president of devices and services Rick Osterloh makes it seem like Fitbit's differentiators could be merged into Google's Wear OS smartwatch operating system, creating the ideal solution. "Over the years, Google has made progress with partners in this space with Wear OS and Google Fit," Osterloh said in a blog post announcing the purchase. "But we see an opportunity to invest even more in Wear OS as well as introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market ."
We'll surely learn more over time, but at least Google is making moves in the smartwatch business, and it's not letting Apple get away with smartwatch domination scot-free.
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