Dreaming of a Wear OS Fitbit? We’ve got one - and it’s called the Pixel Watch

Google Pixel watch and other devices at Google IO
(Image credit: Future)

Google IO 2022 has come and gone and no premium Fitbit running Wear OS was announced, despite promises from last year that it was being worked on. Instead, we have the Fitbit-integrated Pixel Watch

All Fitbit-branded devices currently run on Fitbit's own operating system, Fitbit OS. But following the fitness tracker manufacturer's 2021 acquisition by Google, Fitbit CEO James Park unveiled the two companies were working together on a "premium" Fitbit smartwatch running Wear OS at Google IO last year.

No Fitbit-branded device was forthcoming. Instead, the long-expected Pixel Watch debuted with "deep Fitbit integration". Details are scarce right now, but we know the Pixel Watch will at least cover sleep tracking, Active Zone Minutes and heart rate. It's likely Fitbit will replace the Google Fit app, but it's unknown whether Pixel Watch buyers will need to subscribe to Fitbit Premium in order to get the most out of their new watch. 

We also don't know if some of the more advanced Fitbit functionalities like irregular heart rhythm detection and ECG scans will make it onto the Pixel Watch. 

In an interview with CNET, Fitbit founder James Park said "The Pixel Watch is going to be part of a family of devices from Google and Fitbit that fits into different ranges of prices. So you can have super-premium devices under the Pixel brand. And then we'll continue to have Fitbit devices at other prices as well."

The next two Fitbit-branded smartwatches are likely to be the Fitbit Versa 4 and the Fitbit Sense 2, a pair of devices that will replace their predecessors as the most advanced fitness watches in Fitbit’s stable. Code for the devices that was leaked back in March suggests the two new additions will still be running on Fitbit OS, so it's likely any plans for a "true" smartwatch by Fitbit will have been incorporated into the Pixel.

Analysis: Say goodbye to the WearOS Fitbit

The long-awaited Pixel Watch has been reportedly in development since before the Fitbit acquisition was a glimmer in Alphabet's eye. Fitbit's advanced suite of health and fitness tools is superior to Google Fit's, so rather than retrofitting Wear OS into Fitbit's planned watches after the acquisition was finalized, it makes sense to do just the opposite and cherry-pick Fitbit technology to incorporate into the Pixel Watch.

The announcement likely means we can say goodbye to a true Wear OS Fitbit smartwatch. After all, what's the point anymore? If the much-touted Fitbit integration goes as deep as last night's presentation suggested, there's no need for what is essentially a duplicate device, branded slightly differently. That Venn diagram would practically look like a single circle. 

When it comes to new Fitbit releases, the most probable outcome is that we'll see the Versa 4 and Sense 2 arrive a little later this year (probably within weeks, according to recent leaks) running on Fitbit OS as planned. Fitbit might then scale back on its smartwatch offerings and focus on trackers and off-wrist solutions for health metrics, leaving Wear OS to the Pixel Watch line.

Matt Evans
Fitness, Wellness, and Wearables Editor

Matt is TechRadar's expert on all things fitness, wellness and wearable tech. A former staffer at Men's Health, he holds a Master's Degree in journalism from Cardiff and has written for brands like Runner's World, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, LiveScience and Fit&Well on everything fitness tech, exercise, nutrition and mental wellbeing.

Matt's a keen runner, ex-kickboxer, not averse to the odd yoga flow, and insists everyone should stretch every morning. When he’s not training or writing about health and fitness, he can be found reading doorstop-thick fantasy books with lots of fictional maps in them.