Even though Fossil unveiled two new smartwatches at CES today, there’s one major sticking point: the upgrade to Wear OS 3 won’t be available for several months. Fossil slipped in another new feature for its Gen 6 smartwatches to help with the wait: Amazon Alexa. You’ll have to settle for “coming soon” when it comes to Alexa’s arrival. Hopefully before the release of Wear OS 3.
Fossil said the upgrade will arrive in the first half of 2022, according to 9to5Google. This corresponds to what Fossil told The Verge at CES when spokesperson Robyn Sills claimed Alexa would arrive “early this year” on the Gen 6 devices. Both the Skagen Falster 6 and the Razer x Fossil Gen 6 smartwatches were supplied to me by Fossil, and yes, there is an Alexa widget. If you tap it, though, the voice assistant will not appear. You’ll only see a notification that says “coming soon.”
So it’s anyone’s estimate between “coming soon,” “early this year,” and “first half of this year.” With features like this, it’s not uncommon for businesses to err on the side of caution when it comes to timeframes, lest they end up like Douglas Adams and see self-imposed deadlines fly by. Even yet, it appears like Alexa compatibility will arrive before Wear OS 3 if all goes well. Google will decide when the Wear OS 3 upgrades will be available. For the time being, both Google and Fossil have stuck to their similarly hazy mid-to-late 2022 timelines.
It’s unclear why Fossil would tease Alexa if the product isn’t available yet. The most likely explanation is to offer people something to look forward to as they wait for Wear OS 3, which may come in a few months or a year. Fossil told The Verge in a briefing that the difficult timing had an impact on initial Gen 6 sales, however, sales of the Gen 5E seem to be doing well. Given the uncertainties, it’s understandable that Fossil would emphasize Alexa compatibility.
For what it’s worth, Fossil has won (or will win). Voice assistants are becoming more ubiquitous on smartwatches, but buyers have little control over which one comes with their device. Apple Devices are currently Siri-only, while Wear OS watches are currently linked to Google Assistant. Samsung has been forcing Bixby on Galaxy Watch owners for years, and while Samsung promised that the new Galaxy Watch 4 will have Google Assistant, it has yet to come. Some watches, such as the newly released Garmin Venu 2 Plus, merely connect you to your phone’s assistant. Others assign you to a proprietary assistant, which is rarely convenient.
Fitbit is now the only company that provides any form of the option. You could choose between Alexa and Google Assistant starting with the Fitbit Sense and Versa 3. You could only do one or the other, though. While there is an Alexa widget on my review units, that does not prevent you from using Google Assistant as well. There aren’t many official details, and Alexa’s wrist isn’t the best. However, Fossil’s decision to provide a variety of assistants — or even the opportunity to utilize more than one — is a wise one. It’d just be easier if it was already here.