The Smartch hype is real. Smart watches are about to arrive in a big way. Last week Pebble made a very calculated move and announced the Pebble Time just one week before the Watch event on Monday, March 9. Pebble Time is the second iteration of the popular e-paper smart watch, the Pebble. Pebble Time has added a few key features, including a color e-paper screen, a microphone and a redesigned UI. Pebble Time also brought along a bit of controversy with it’s announcement, but first, we’ll check out the specs.
Color E-Paper Display and More!
First, Pebble has iterated on e-paper technology with a color screen. The beauty of e-paper is that it’s visible in bright light and has very low battery consumption. Because of this display, Pebble smart watches can last over 7 days on a single charge. The color is a nice addition and looks great despite the lack of constant backlighting that normal color screens require.
Next, Pebble addressed my biggest qualm and added a microphone. The problem with the original Pebble was the lack of a way to interface back with the smartphone. It could display your notifications, but you could not respond. With a smart watch, dictation is the best input and Pebble has brought this technology to the Pebble Time. Currently, however, the dictation capabilities of Pebble Time are extremely limited on iOS. One is able to reply to texts and emails on androids just fine, while the only dictation capabilities on iOS are in the gmail app specifically. While the microphone is exposed, the Pebble Time, like it’s predecessor is still water resistant for up to 3ft.
It is also worth mentioning the Pebble Time comes in several colors with several band choices. These options are then doubled if you take the new Pebble Time Steel into consideration, which comes in 3 metal finishes and with leather bands.
Pebble Time Timeline
Pebble Time’s redesigned UI has embraced the most important part of a watch, time. The interface relies on the idea of a timeline. With the physical buttons on the side you are able to scroll through your own personal timeline. This translates to looking back in time at notifications you missed and forward in time to things ahead in your schedule. This interface seems to work very well given the limitations of a smartwatch.
Pebble’s Kickstarter Controversy
So why was this announcement controversial? Pebble decided to usurp Apple and announce their new smartwatch just a week before Apple announces their Watch. This part isn’t controversial, it’s actually a pretty smart calculated move by Pebble. The real issue is that Pebble chose to use Kickstarter as their means of announcing the watch, and then taking preorders from backers. Some believe this violates the spirit of Kickstarter. Pebble has the funds and the means to release the Pebble Time of it’s own accord. However, Pebble is choosing to use Kickstarter as essentially a preorder system. They don’t need the money to fund any project. The project is complete. It seems Pebble merely wanted to grab some of that sweet smartwatch cash before people had a chance to spend it on the Watch.
Personally, I agree that Kickstarter was not the right venue for this release. It’s a smart decision by Pebble, as far as maximizing their profits. However, it’s a somewhat scummy move for Pebble.
-Shatter Buggy, Denver