Smartwatch news of 2023: A round-up of Google’s antics

The smartwatch year in review — few ups and many downs
An illustration of a smartwatch, strapped to a persons wrist, displaying weather — Unsplash
An illustration of a smartwatch, strapped to a person's wrist, displaying weather — Unsplash 

2022 brought many innovations for Android smartwatches, and in the tech world, it is a thing to not expect much the very next year or a couple of years for cynics. And with this smartwatch news round-up of 2023, we can tell you there is nothing huge to report, except for Google’s antics.

As reported by The Verge, the first of these was the server outages that Fitbit devices suffered throughout the year, the first one being the biggest — spanning multiple days. On top of that, Google-owned Fitbit removed its community features in March, such as Challenges, Adventures, and Groups, which Fitbit previously held as great marketable features, and people were not happy about it.

In addition, an update to the Fitbit app overhauled many things, including the removal of a fan favourite step streaks feature and a barebones design that users did not like. All this combined with several server shutdowns and you have got a year with many missteps (pun intended) from Google and Fitbit.

And not everything is Google’s fault as many smartwatch makers have yet to transition to Wear OS 3 and 4. These manufacturers, such as Mobvoi and Fossil, are considerably lagging in their software updates and users are suffering because of it. Mobvoi has yet to update its devices to Wear OS 3 and while Fossil has updated to Wear OS 3, there is no word on their next-gen release.

It’s not all doom and gloom as Google took some strides in the right direction. Google fixed many issues that users had with Pixel Watch in Pixel Watch 2, and it redesigned the problematic Fitbit app, again, adding meat to its overly simple design, bringing back step streaks, and fixing other smaller issues.

Not to mention the Pixel Watch warranty issue, this time, Google provided customers with an extended warranty, since the screen of the Pixel Watch 2 is, unfortunately, also prone to cracks and scratches. Google has also been trying to cater to third-party app integration in their smartwatch ecosystem.

Overall, it was an underwhelming year for smartwatches. But we can always hope that 2024 and beyond will be comparatively decent for Android smartwatches, and Google will tighten its belt on sloppy mistakes.