Unlike the soft disc used with the first-generation Pixel Watch, Google’s new Pixel Watch 2 switched to a charger with pogo pins, a design Fitbit uses in all its fitness trackers and smartwatches. To complicate matters, it also appears that first-generation Pixel Watch cases are not compatible with the new watch either. All of this can be frustrating from a user’s perspective, but it highlights why smartwatches and wearables have relied on proprietary accessories for so long.
Switching to pogo pin charging may seem like a step backwards, but it’s a practical option. With the Pixel Watch 2, Google and Fitbit chose to add a new multi-track sensor instead of the single strip of LEDs on the first watch. The upside is that the additional sensors will improve heart rate tracking accuracy by 40 percent. The downside is that adding more internal components leaves less space to place charging elements inside the watch.
This is a common problem in smartwatch (and other wearable) design. A few years ago, I interviewed designer Gadi Amit to ask him Why special chargers were so popular in this gadget category When there were universal charging standards for other devices. Amit was the founder of NewDealDesign, the agency that Fitbit has used on many of its previous devices. What I’ve learned is that wearables are too small for USB-C connectors, and that the basic design of the smartwatch itself is part of the problem. Because there are displays on the top and sensor arrays on the bottom, charging areas are often limited to the bottom perimeter or sides of the device.
This is the main reason why many wearable chargers opt for studs or stands. Unlike the wireless pucks used by Apple and Samsung, these devices ensure that the smartwatch stays secure rather than accidentally slipping out. Pins are popular because the contact allows for faster charging — which may help alleviate the pain of shorter-than-ideal battery life. Fitbit (and now Google) isn’t the only wearable company relying on pogo pins, either. Garmin still relies primarily on pins, as do many fossil chargers. The downside is that the screws can wear down over time or break off if you don’t store your chargers properly.
Wireless pinless smartwatch charging has its drawbacks as well. First, between companies, no two wireless chargers are compatible despite using the same basic technology. This is because each company has its own take on where to place internal components, and magnetic elements are used to make sure everything lines up properly. This is also why there is no Qi wireless charging Always compatible with smart watches.
The original Pixel Watch is also a great example of this. Although Google has never said that the device is compatible with reverse wireless charging, many people online have pointed out that it is technically possible. I also really tried that, but even though I was able to charge it a bit, it didn’t work reliably. The same applies to the reverse charging that Samsung does with its devices. You Can It does work with some Samsung phones, but it doesn’t work reliably with most Qi chargers. A lot of this boils down to coil placement and the fact that round devices don’t always lie flat easily.
But while switching to pogo pins here makes sense — even if you don’t like it — it means you can’t use the original Pixel Watch’s charging puck if you upgrade. This leads to electronic waste. Likewise, it appears that first-generation Pixel Watch cases are also not compatible with the new watch. 9to5Google is found Which many Amazon sellers have change they Lists To say their cases only work with the original Pixel Watch. This is likely because the Pixel Watch 2’s digital crown is more flush against the screen, and the side button protrudes a little less. The microphone placement is also slightly different. You likely won’t have to wait long before Pixel Watch 2 cases hit the market — but it’s annoying considering the Pixel Watch’s screen is prone to cracks and scratches, and Google doesn’t offer repair options for the watch.
This isn’t just Google’s problem. It’s just that most wearable companies try to wait a few generations before making modifications so that accessories remain backwards and forwards compatible for as long as possible. However, the Pixel Watch is very new, so these changes are becoming more noticeable. For its part, Google seems to have decided that the benefits of the new sensor array and improved design outweigh the negatives.
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