Google's Watch Unlock could get an upgrade ahead of the Pixel Watch 3

Google Pixel Watch 2 models
The Google Pixel Watch 2 (Image credit: Google)

With the Pixel Watch 3 likely to be launching later this year, it looks as though Google is upgrading the Watch Unlock feature for Pixel wearables – potentially hinting at one of the features we can expect on its next smartwatch.

Watch Unlock enables an Android device to be unlocked automatically when a trusted Pixel Watch or Pixel Watch 2 is nearby. As discovered by 9to5Google, code hidden deep in Android is laying the foundations for the feature to function via ultra wideband (UWB), in addition to the current Bluetooth support.

The UWB protocol would make for a faster and more precise unlocking experience – it's something you'll find in Apple's latest smartwatches such as the Apple Watch Ultra 2 – and if you put two and two together here, it's likely that the Pixel Watch 3 will come with UWB on board.

For older watches, and for countries where UWB hasn't been given regulatory clearance, Bluetooth would still be supported. You would also need a smartphone with UWB for this to work – a smartphone like the Google Pixel 8 Pro, for instance.

Coming up next

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 on a person's wrist

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 has UWB (Image credit: Future)

We haven't heard a huge amount about the Pixel Watch 3, but a few leaks are now starting to drip out. If Google follows the same schedule as last year, then the smartwatch will break cover in October, so we've still got a few months to wait yet.

One of the rumors to emerge is that we could get a choice of two sizes this year, though there's no word yet on what the sizes might be. This would bring the Pixel Watch 3 into line with its competitors from Samsung and Apple.

There's also been talk of Pixel Watches going buttonless, with sensors around the edge of the frame being used to control what's on screen instead. Whether that tech is developed in time for the Pixel Watch 3 model remains to be seen.

We were impressed with the Pixel Watch 2, but not completely blown away. In our Google Pixel Watch 2 review we talked about the improved performance and brighter screen, though there's still room for improvement.

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David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.