It seems this fall’s Google Pixel Watch will get a dedicated app, as teased by a new settings page for “Smart Unlock.”

About APK Insight: In this “APK Insight” post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.


Back in January, Google announced that Wear OS 3 devices would soon be capable of unlocking your Android phone/tablet or Chromebook. The feature is set to be a major enhancement of Android’s classic “Smart Lock” in terms of security and also likely speed. By specifically calling out that this would only work with “eligible Wear OS 3 devices,” Google made it seem likely that this revamped unlocking feature would debut on the (then-unannounced) Pixel Watch.

Inside the latest update to Google Play Services beta, version 22.22, we seemingly have our confirmation of that. We managed to forcibly enable a new settings page for “Smart Unlock,” which describes automatically unlocking your Android phone so long as your watch is “unlocked, on your wrist, and close to your phone.”

More importantly, a bit of text at the bottom of the page explicitly mentions the need to set up your watch with the “Google Pixel Watch app.”

To set up your watch for Smart Unlock, connect it to your phone with the Google Pixel Watch app. Your watch and phone must be connected to use Smart Unlock.

From this, it becomes clear that the Google Pixel Watch will not use the same companion app that most other Wear OS watches use. Instead, similar to the Galaxy Watch 4, it will use its own separate app. In some ways, this matches how the Google Pixel Buds use a dedicated app rather than Android’s built-in audio options.

That being said, it’s not yet clear in what ways the Google Pixel Watch app will differ to justify not using the Wear OS app. If nothing else, such a Google Pixel Watch app should bring a much needed Material You interface in contrast to the dated design of the Wear OS app.

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, from which some APK Insight teardowns benefit.

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article.

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Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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