Google has rolled out its March 2023 updates for all current-generation Pixel mobile devices this week. The Google Pixel Watch gets fall detection, a power-saving Digital Clock watch-face, improved alarm support, and other bug fixes and improvements to bring it in line with the rest of our best smartwatch list.
If it feels familiar, it’s because Google announced Fall Detection on February 28, reiterating it in a blog post detailing its March feature Drop for Pixels. Fall detection is the marquee feature here. Much like with the Apple Watch 8, you'll be able to have your Pixel Watch automatically detect if you’ve been in a fall and help dial emergency services to come to your aid.
It’ll do this with a prompt that allows you to choose whether the fall was severe enough to contact emergency services. If you don't make a decision within 60 seconds, the watch will contact emergency services automatically. The Watch will be able to automatically speak to the emergency services for you if you can’t, though you do have the option to override it and use your own voice.
The other really big feature brings in a power-saving watch face. If your Pixel Watch is off because the battery is low, you’ll still be able to check the time via the Digital Clock Watch Face upon tapping the crown. It’s a helpful little feature that should give you confidence your smart watch can still function as a watch even if the smart features are too power-hungry to be useful. A similar battery-saving update comes to the quick settings tile for the feature, letting you toggle it on or off with a single tap.
There are a slew of other miscellaneous fixes associated with this update – even if not entirely attention-grabbing. The touch screen is now more sensitive, rotating the crown now wakes the watch, and a bug that had some users experienced false starts or delays on the Pixel Watch's alarm functionality has been fixed.
Small changes, big impact
Fall detection is a feature that has proven to be life-saving in the past. It’s an excellent addition to any smartwatch, and Google’s inclusion of it here personifies better late than never. The best Apple Watches have had the feature for months, but the update is for the Google Pixel Watch only – Fitbit device owners will miss out on the feature. Unsurprising, given Google has been starving Fitbit of features for some time now.
There are limitations, naturally. It’s not available in all countries, your phone needs to be nearby, or it may not even detect the fall if the motion sensors tell the Watch you were doing something innocuous that would account for your sudden loss of momentum. Tech isn’t magic and features fail once in a while. It is still better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not even have the option.
Moving on, the Pixel Watch's battery is not the best we've seen smartwatches. The low-power Digital Clock feature is a band-aid, that’s true. It’s still a useful improvement to be able to check the time confidently on your watch without fearing it would be dead.