Google’s future Pixel Watch could be button-less

Google Pixel Watch how to extend battery life Tiles
(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

The next Google Pixel Watch could be button-free, relying on gesture recognition controls, with the aim of making the most out of the watch’s space. 

That’s going by a patent filed by Google (as spotted by Wareable) that appears to suggest that by ditching the buttons, a Google smartwatch could have fewer moving parts and thus a cleaner design. 

“Content on such a small screen is easily obscured when touching the device, making it difficult to precisely select and scroll because the user cannot see what they are selecting or scrolling,” the patent noted. 

This would facilitated by having new sensors on the side of the watch that could detect specific presses, taps and squeezes on its sides to act as a form of gesture recognition.

The patent is titled “Gesture recognition on watch bezel using strain gauges” which would suggest that the sides of a future Pixel Watch could be squeezable, not unlike those of the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 phones, only likely reliant on sensors rather than moving parts.

Going by the patent's intent, it would suggest that a next-gen Pixel Watch won’t be getting a larger display, though we do hope it trims the bezels slightly to offer more screen space without enlarging the watch’s footprint. 

An image in the patent also suggests that the crown used to aid scrolling through apps on the Pixel Watch, as well as being a home button, may be dropped altogether on a future Google smartwatch. 

One to watch

The current Pixel Watch 2 only really has one dedicated standalone button, just above the digital crown, so it’s not like it's festooned with buttons. 

Yet, going button-free and harnessing gesture recognition could not only avoid the challenge of obscuring a display when tapping at on-screen icons, it could also make a future Pixel Watch more durable and likely better at resisting water and dust due to having fewer external moving parts and thus less scope for gaps between the external and internal hardware. 

However, this has been filed and not yet granted, so the tech Google is proposing may not come to fruition. And even if a patent is granted, it’s no guarantee that the tech or techniques proposed will get into a consumer device. But it does feel like a button-free Pixel Watch isn’t beyond the realms of imagination; we suspect we’ll have to wait until later next year at the earliest before we see a next-gen Pixel Watch. 

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Managing Editor, Mobile Computing

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at TechRadar with a focus on phones and tablets, but a general interest in all things tech, especially things with a good story behind them. He can also be found writing about games, computers, and cars when the occasion arrives. And he also supports with the day-to-day running of TechRadar. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face and a nose for food markets.