Iconic watch brand Fossil
made waves last month with the announcement of a new, premium smartwatch. The news came by way of executives Greg McKelvey and Steve Prokup, who sat down with CNET
in early June to drop some hints about the new device.
It’s still early, and the news so far is pretty sparse. The two executives only dropped breadcrumbs of information. Still, there are several exciting developments, each detailed below. Here’s the news thus far on Fossil’s new premium smartwatch.
Runs Google’s New Wear OS
The soft announcement of Fossil’s new premium smartwatch came just weeks after Google announced its new version of Wear OS (possibly now just called Google Wear). And it’s not just an iterative upgrade.
Google partnered with Samsung in developing the latest version of Wear, and the two firms re-engineered the OS using code from Tizen (Samsung’s previous smartwatch OS).
This development matters because Wear OS and the Android-centric smartwatches that run it have both lagged far behind Apple and WatchOS. Of any non-Apple smartwatches, Samsung came the closest to providing a robust experience, but you had to be locked into the Samsung ecosystem to receive the most benefit.
Making a fully featured smartwatch OS available to multiple brands, including fashion-oriented ones, could bring a new level of competition to the smartwatch market.
The new Wear promises
drastically improved battery life, performance improvements, third-party Tiles, and fast app switching. There are also deeper Fitbit integrations coming now that Google owns the fitness tracker company.
Premium Compared to Existing Fossil Smartwatches
Over and over throughout their interview, McKelvey and Prokup used the word “premium” to define just about every aspect of the new model. And press releases from Fitbit, Samsung and Google about the new Fossil watch all do the same.
No one is getting into specific features much at all at this point. But the Fossil executives do describe “pretty major hardware upgrades” and global LTE options. Better health features may also be in the cards, making use both of the improved hardware specifications and the more robust Wear platform.
Pricing: Too Early to Tell
Fossil hasn’t announced pricing (or even a name, for that matter) for its new premium smartwatch. But of course they have made it quite clear that this is a premium product. So the place to start in estimating a purchase price is to look at Fossil’s current
(apparently non-premium) smartwatches.
Fossil’s current Gen 5 and Gen 5E smartwatches range in starting price:
Therefore, the new premium smartwatch (gen 6?) is sure to land at a higher price point. While Fossil execs spoke of enhanced LTE offerings, there may still be a non-LTE model, allowing for a range of price points.
The best guess at present is that Fossil intends to come near or match Apple Watch pricing, joining Apple as a true premium smartwatch experience.
Multiple Designs Likely
Fossil’s current-gen smartwatches all feature the same three buttons in the same locations, with the outer two buttons being user-configurable. That exact setup won’t be the case for all models of the new premium smartwatch. With new OS power and flexibility, Fossil expects to produce models with multiple configurable buttons and potentially even a model with none.
Release date for both Wear OS and the new Fossil premium smartwatch is simply stated as Fall 2021 at this point. More specific release timeframes are yet to come.
Upgrades for Previous Models, But Not to New Wear OS
As a part of the announcements, Fossil execs promised continued updates to previous Gen 5 smartwatch models. At the same time, they made it clear that the new Wear OS wasn’t in the cards for older models. The new OS requires tech specs that the old watches don’t have.
So if you want to experience the best Google has to offer in a fashion-forward Fossil design, you’ll need to upgrade.
Competitive with Apple?
With these moves, the intentions of both Google and Fossil are fairly obvious. Apple is the king of the smartwatch hill right now, offering a tightly integrated hardware and OS solution that works very, very well. Thus far, no one outside Cupertino has launched a smartwatch that truly compares.
This has left Android devotees stuck with a subpar yet well-integrated smartwatch experience.
Fossil and Google (and Samsung and Fitbit) are all deeply invested in changing the situation. It’s too early to know whether the new premium Fossil smartwatch will be truly on par with Apple, but the company certainly expects to close the gap.
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