Ever since Google I/O 2022 concluded, I’ve had plenty of thoughts to share in terms of what’s to come from the Google campus. But there’s something that you should know and it’s that I primarily use an iPhone and Apple Watch on a daily basis. I’m one of those people who truly believe in the Apple ecosystem, and it actually just makes my job easier.
Being able to hand things off between my Mac and iPhone or iPad is just sublime, while the Apple Watch remains my favorite smartwatch — at least for the time being. As I explained before, there’s a big reason why the Pixel Tablet was my favorite announcement made during the Google I/O 2022 keynote.
Google finally seems to be kicking things into gear with its “Better Together” plans. And if the plan succeeds, I could end up relegating my Apple hardware to “backup gear.”
I’m not going to re-hash everything that I’ve already touched on, but Google seems to be making the right moves in an effort to create the cohesive Android-powered ecosystem we’ve been longing for. The Pixel 6a solves the need for an excellent budget phone, and as long as the Tensor 2 is as good as the original, the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro will satisfy the mid-range and budget markets.
Android 13 Beta 2 introduces some long-overdue changes to the interface of apps on tablets, and we hope to see this make waves throughout the developer community. And despite the fact that the Pixel Tablet won’t be available until next year, we should still be able to enjoy these changes this fall with some of the best Android tablets.
Then there’s the Pixel Watch, and it’s really here where I feel that my continued use of Apple products may halt. Everything that Google showed off on stage at I/O 2022 reaffirmed my desire to have a Google-created smartwatch. Even after reports surfaced that it would be using a comically-outdated processor, I’m still holding onto hope.
It all hinges on the watch
For me, the determining factor of whether I leave Apple’s walled garden behind hinges on the Pixel Watch. I’m not expecting Google to break the mold completely, but from what we’ve seen from the promotional videos and different images, that’s what Google is trying to do.
From a design perspective, the Pixel Watch looks like it will be a masterpiece. It perfectly blends aluminum with glass, without looking too big and bulky once it’s on your wrist. I’m not the biggest fan of the first-party watch bands, but it’s still a unique take and I’m sure adapters will arrive allowing us to use pretty much whatever other bands we want to. Plus, Google is likely to offer up a slew of fun watch band colors to pick from.
Moving onto the health and fitness features, I think I’m most excited about Google’s new Health Connect APIs. This was created in partnership with Samsung to make it easier than ever to access your health data, regardless of what app or service you are using. For years, trying to sync Fitbit data with Google Fit has been a pain, and that’s just one example. There are workarounds, but they can be too cumbersome and I would prefer to have an implementation that “just works.” And Health Connect could be just the ticket.
This is extremely important because of the deep Fitbit integration that appears to be built into this “unique” version of Wear OS. There was even a Fitbit complication that was shown off, so it would only make sense for Google to create a tool to sync your data across different services. Recently, Google began making it possible to link your Fitbit and Google Fit data with Assistant in order to show you activity metrics on the Nest Hub. It may seem like a small step, but it’s much more important than you think.
I want to believe
For one reason or another, I prefer to use one ecosystem of devices at a time. My iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, and MacBook Pro all work seamlessly together. The same can be said for the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, my beloved Galaxy Z Fold 3, Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, and custom-built Windows PC.
But I continue finding myself wanting to use my Pixel 6 Pro more and more. And while I have a Fitbit Sense paired to it, along with the best Chromebooks, that’s only solving part of the puzzle. The Sense, while a fantastic smartwatch, feels out of place. Phone Hub works great on my Chromebook and is getting even better, but it doesn’t quite offer the same functionality as using the Your Phone app with my Z Fold 3.
I want to believe that Google has finally reached the point where it’s coordinating all of its focus and efforts into providing a cohesive and seamless ecosystem. All of the pieces appear to be falling into place, and as long as the Pixel 7 and Pixel Watch deliver on that promise, it might actually be the first time in a long time that I take my SIM out of the iPhone 13 Pro Max and start using Android all of the time.
There are a lot of “ifs” and “maybes” here, so I’ll throw another “but” into the equation. Everything that Google is showing and telling us looks good on paper, BUT, if the execution doesn’t match up, then we’re right back at square one. And that likely won’t be good for the Pixel ecosystem of devices.