This Apple Watch Feature Could Appear On Google Pixel Watch 3

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Google is preparing an upgraded wireless connectivity suite for its upcoming smartwatch, which is said to improve location tracking accuracy and help with remote device unlock.

Tipsters have investigated the code of the latest Play Services app update, and have found information relating to ultra-wideband (UWB) for device unlock.

A device unlock feature is already available on the Google Pixel Watch 2, which keeps a smartphone unlocked if it’s close to the smartwatch.

It was built on top of Bluetooth based proximity sensing, creating a “trusted device” pairing, telling the phone the user is nearby, keeping it in an unlocked state.

The feature has rolled out for all WearOS smartwatches widely, but Bluetooth does come with a set of limitations, including lower bandwidth, and less precise location finding. Ultra-wideband will fix these, providing a centimetre-level accuracy.

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The UWB facilities have been shipping on Apple smartwatches for a few years, and are also available on AirTags and phones going back to the iPhone 11.

Google Pixel phones and Samsung Galaxy phones have also had the feature, however, for the Pixel Watch, it hadn’t been deployed for keeping a phone unlocked.

For the Pixel Watch 3, this could be different. The app’s codebase reveals UWB ranging for Active Unlock. Google has called the feature Watch Unlock.

Code suggests it will make the watch faster and more accurate, and considering Apple’s history, there’s precedent for this.

A range of Apple devices, including the Apple Watch, have come with a dedicated UWB chip for Precision Finding. It allows the watch to provide distance and direction guidance to find other misplaced devices with a UWB chip.

The important thing to note though is that this is just a code change, meaning it may or may not arrive on the upcoming Pixel Watch 3.

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