As we eagerly anticipate the release of Google’s Pixel Watch 2, a surprising update concerning its predecessor has grabbed our attention. Google has quietly started activating the SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation) sensor on its first-gen timepiece. This is a feature that was curiously dormant since the smartwatch’s original launch in October 2022.
A source of contention
The non-working SpO2 sensor had been a source of contention for some users and experts, owing to its omission despite the fact that it was listed in the official technical specifications. The Pixel Watch was designed to monitor blood oxygen saturation from the start. But this feature was never used, ostensibly due to a lack of FDA approval or potential accuracy issues.
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Instead, the watch displayed an estimated oxygen variation (EOV), which measures changes in oxygen saturation levels in your blood indirectly. However, the Pixel Watch now appears to be collecting data, with some Reddit users sharing a couple of fuzzy images of a dedicated Oxygen saturation card in the Fitbit Today app. More importantly, Google has also shared on its blog post a pic showing off the “new” feature.
This data shows blood oxygen saturation levels while sleeping. It is the type of info that provide useful insights of user’s overall health when analysed over time. Eight months after its release, this significant feature update will bring the Pixel Watch up to par with its competitors.
Looking ahead to Pixel Watch 2
Looking ahead, we anticipate the Pixel Watch 2 will be released in October 2023. This will follow the annual release pattern established by tech titans such as Apple. On the upcoming model we expect to see an activated blood oxygen sensor from the start, which many other fitness trackers and smartwatches already provide.
Several other potential features and improvements for the Pixel Watch 2 are on our wish list. Given Google’s close relationship with Fitbit, temperature and electrodermal activity (EDA) sensors appear likely, allowing for more comprehensive health tracking. With a more modern chipset on the way, the Pixel Watch 2 could perform significantly better than its predecessor. That one relies on four-year-old technology.
Another important area for improvement is battery life. The current Pixel Watch has a battery life of up to 24 hours with normal use, which falls short of most people’s expectations. The Pixel Watch 2 could have a lifespan of 2-3 days with more power-efficient internals and a larger battery. A more user-friendly strap release mechanism and multiple size options are also potential improvements that would enhance the user experience.
The Pixel Watch received some notable features in the June 2023 feature drop in addition to the SpO2 functionality. This includes alerts for unusually high or low heart rate, auto-pause your run, Google Assistant in additional languages, Spotify support and more.
As we wait for the Pixel Watch 2, it’s encouraging to see Google continuing to make improvements to the original device. This gives us hope that the company has taken user feedback into account and is committed to providing a better user experience with the next iteration of its smartwatch.
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