Pixel Watch 2 (after 4 months)

Okay, so it's been a bit of a beat since I put the Pixel Watch 2 on my wrist.  And I have to say, I'm torn about how I'm going to write this because I have 2 warring thoughts about it.  

  1. There's nothing new, nothing to go "oh cool, that's why I took off the Pixel Watch 1 and put this on".
  2. But that's okay, the fact that I'm not constantly 'wowed' by it or noticing my interactions kinda means it's doing its job so well.

Yeah, I don't know if it's a symptom of being a hobbyist reviewer, that I have this constant need to be 'entertained' or wanting to find what cool thing something can do, just so I can show it off to everybody.  It's got to have that "oh, let me show you this" feature.

The Pixel Watch 2 - sure, it did have one or 2 things under the hood over the 1 - I honestly don't know if it was enough for people to want to switch over.

Let's cover over some of the things that are different, good and bad, and hopefully you can determine, even a third of a year later, if it's something you want.

First up, a big difference over last year's model is that this has a much more advanced and sensitive heart rate monitor.  It has really good data, and it's constantly checking you and letting you know if it noticed something (it has these 'check in' moments for you to notice how you're feeling and log it).

Sounds great, because, yeah, having more accurate information, is great.

The downside to that feature for me, is that they had to readjust how the sensors were put together on the underside of the watch.  

Which means that the way that it charges changed.  How it changed is (and I'd mentioned it in the earlier reviews) that instead of being able to place the watch in any orientation on the charger, it now has pins that need to be making proper contact, so it can only go one way.

This has meant I that I change the way that I charge it, or that I have positioned the charger on my desk.  Not terrible, just a bit of a blunt change from other models out there, so it just felt 'odd'.  Fast forward 4 months, and I barely notice at all anymore, it's just how it is and it's easy to accommodate.

Speaking of charging, that's the other enhancement over the original; the battery is better.  Now, I'm not talking loads better.  Whereas on the PW1 I was finding my batter to be about 30-35% ish by the end of the day, I can end my day AND sleep with the watch through the night and have it be about 50%.  It would lose maybe 10% over night.  Keep in mind that I have removed the 'always on display'.  I do have 'tilt to wake' on.  If I ever need to see my watch, there's never been a moment where I go to look at it and I've not tilted it for it to wake.  So I save about 15% on the day not having that 'always on' on.

And the charger really steps up here.  I had 'discovered' the 'nighttime mode' on the watch, where it puts it in to no screen, no notifications (unless you hit the button), so I can wear it and not be worried about it waking me up with a notification or the display turning on.  [If you don't know about it, you swipe down from the homescreen to see the settings switches and it's the one that looks like a moon]

So, now I have woken up in the morning with a battery at 50% and I just need to plop it on the charger before I go to work.  The charger, maybe because of the pins (vs. magnet induction) can charge the watch 50% in just 30 minutes.  I get up, have a shower, get dressed, breakfast, and the watch is fully charged well before I need to leave the house.  So, no more battery fears for me.

My other notice, or the hope, for the new version was that of the durability of the screen - the PW1 had accumulated a lot of little scratches over time - nothing bad, just noticeable enough for a bit of a critic like me, I want my device to stay pristine.  

Well, the PW2 has held up better.  Sure, there had been a spot or 2 in the beginning, but there were just 'there' and not 'in the way' or overly noticeable.  But it did get to a point that ultimately I did end up buying some screen protectors for it - so, it's better, but it's not perfect.  I think it's just how some things are, especially as I keep seeing people with shattered glass phones and cracked cases.. I can manage a teeny tiny scrape.

It's so minor enough that it's actually hard to get any shot of any examples properly.

A minor change from the first is that the crown rotation definitely feels more fluid than on the first.  And you may say "so?".  Try switching back, or using another device that doesn't have a winding crown/button and it does feel nice using the PW2.

The last big 'add' for the device is that it's now capable of running an ECG.  

Checking out your heart rhythm.  Now, I barely use it, ... I even set it up as a tile and I still barely used it.  That being said, it's usually the first question I have from anybody about smartwatches, was did it measure it.  I don't have any heart concerns myself, but it's neat to know that it continually would say I have a normal sinus rhythm.

So, there's not a lot of new or mighty changes from the first.  But I do like it.  The battery life has meant I've rarely had it off my wrist since I got it.

How do I use my Pixel Watch?  Very simply, yet 'constantly'.  Probably why I took so long to write this as it just felt so seamless and integrated that it didn't stand out for me, which is the best sign it's doing its job.  A person I knew who works in film doing effects had said once "if we're doing our job well, you won't know it"; I think that same principle applies here.

Let's go over how I have it set up.

First off, you've got to find a good homescreen/watchface.  For me, having complications (the little interactive/display bits) with plenty of data on it.  I want the temperature, rough idea of weather, steps, date, time, ... Too much and it's cluttered.  Too little and I have to swipe around a lot to get what I want.

Then there are the tiles.  What I use with the watch I have mostly set up as a tile.  I have the ECG monitor to start, I have my fitness data, calendar items, weather and my timer (3 minutes for coffee/soup).

Those are my most used items.  Either I can see from the watchface want I want, or I can swipe over a tile and get it.  

Everything else that happens with the watch comes in from a notification from an app on my phone.  A good day using the watch I barely pick up my phone.  Most texts, and other notifications, I can interact with from my watch.  A response, a reminder to get to the next meeting.  I can even see some of the camera notifications so I can know whether it's just a cat strolling in the backyard, or Purolator deciding to leave our new TV out on our stairs.  I can even manipulate some of my Google Home items (lights, broadcast, etc...).

My favourite thing to do (which really causes my kid to give me the eye roll) is using Google Wallet to pay for things.  Finally getting TD to be able to use the tap to pay from our devices means that I have been able to tap to pay with my watch for everything.

2 taps on the button and it launches and 'boop' it works.  It will even pull up thee Metro card, or Optimum card for it to be scanned.

Overall, my watch has become a central point of my mobile experience.  Getting all my notifications so I don't have to pick up my phone, measuring my activity data, even paying for my Timmy's at the drive-through has been great.

It's not a big watch, so it's not imposing or in the way, the band is comfortable (I can even sleep with it on).

Is it worth the switch from the PW1... That's a bit hard to say for me.  I think I could easily still live with it.  But, coming from another watch, I think this is a great option.  It's just a shame that it crams Fitbit down your throat to use it.  I set up Google Fit and then using Health Connect to share Fitbit to Google Fit and then try to ignore Fitbit exists.  But that's just me.