The Pixel Watch's promised fall detection is finally rolling out

The Pixel Watch's promised fall detection is finally rolling out
Feb 2023

With the launch of the Pixel Watch in October, Google started slowly trying to claw its way back into smartwatch relevance. A few months later, it's launching a big feature that has been on the Apple Watch for four years: fall detection.

As Google describes the feature, "fall detection uses motion sensors built in to your watch and on-device machine learning to determine if you've taken a hard fall and will call emergency services if you don't move or respond within a certain timeframe." Like on an Apple Watch, if a fall is detected, you'll get a full-screen pop-up asking if you're OK. If you don't respond, an alarm will sound for the next minute, and if you still don't respond, the watch will call 911. Fall detection has been a big reason at-risk people like the elderly have an Apple Watch, so it's good that Google is finally delivering this feature.

The Apple Watch version, along with car crash detection, had led to some false positives, with the watch dialing 911 when the users weren't hurt. Google says it has worked to stop that, saying, "Worried that doing burpees or hitting the ski slopes will trigger an accidental emergency call? Your Pixel Watch knows the difference between taking a hard fall and performing a vigorous physical activity or even quickly recovering from a small stumble--thanks to our machine learning algorithms and rigorous testing." Google calls out skiing, burpees, jumping, and swimming as activities that could cause false positives, but hopefully it has worked out the bugs through the "rigorous" testing process.

Fall detection is opt in, so calling 911 won't happen, ever, unless you specifically enable it. Google says: "You can turn the feature on in the 'Updates' page on the Watch Companion app or directly on the Pixel Watch in the Personal Safety app." If your Pixel Watch doesn't have LTE, your phone will need to be nearby to complete the call.