Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pebble Aims To Skip Ahead In Time

PebbleThe developers of Pebble know it and so do you. Its days could be numbered unless its innovative timeline is continuously cut in half, ahead of rumors that every tech brand on the planet will be developing a smart phone connected watch or some other sort of wearable technology.

So far Pebble is trying to do just that, unveiling a next generation watch that attracted some attention at CES earlier this year. The difference? The new Pebble is Pebble Steel, which is a highly fashionable next generation approach to wearable technology. And there are certainly some tradeoffs with the design.

The most obvious transitions and transformations are surprising. Just like the name implies, the new design is made of stainless steel. It comes with the latest round of Corning Gorilla Glass. Its buttons are also made of tactile metal. And it now comes with a 5 ATM water resistance rating, which water tested to 165 feet (showering and shallow water swimming, if you want to risk it).

Pebble Steel keeps ahead of innovation at a price. 

That price is $100 more than the original Pebble watch, which is especially tricky because the biggest improvements are more fashionable than functional. In fact, there are already a growing number of apps that can be switched on and off the watch.

The downside is that they are the same number of apps as the original (eight) and some of the fitness apps have had a harder time sticking with the transition. The again, that might make some sense — the style isn't very indicative of a sports watch even if some of the hardware makes it more rugged. Even better, the ruggedness takes up less space.

The new body is smaller and the software has been improved. Original Pebble owners will be happy to discover they haven't been left out. The new firmware update works with the original watch too.

There is some improvement to the display, but not much was needed. Pebble calls its LED an e-paper display, which doesn't have the clarity of e-ink technology but beats out typical LED devices. For Pebble Steel, the display improvement is mostly tied to the new tricolor LED.

Why everybody liked the original Pebble design from day one. 

Pebble was a breakthrough in that it used Bluetooth technology to provide some hands-free smart phone functions like checking notifications, volume control, and an interface with select apps like fitness programs and location information. That was the idea — extending smart phone functions.

There was plenty to like about it too. Like the new stainless steel models, it also has a 5 ATM water resistance, some optical hard coating for display protection, and an efficient charging expectation to last 5-7 days between changes.

People who bought Pebble weren't the only ones excited. Developers were too. They still are. Along with the introduction of the Pebble Steel, Pebble has promised to launch its own app store with hundreds of apps designed to work with iOS and Android.

It's a smart move, especially because Pebble seems to have taken a page out of the Apple playbook. The only thing capable of holding off hardware innovations other than hardware innovations, is creating a functionality gap by owning more apps. In other words, even if someone launched a smart phone today, it would take considerable effort to match the might of pre-existing Pebble apps.

Most of the apps are free, even if the new centralized app store reminds me of the early developer days on Apple. Designers jump in with some crazy ideas and novelties and it's up to you to find the real gems. With the new store, all the apps can be found in one place (which beats surfing the net).

Pebble Steel Ticks Up Another Notch At 6.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Pebble Steel, much like Pebble, is most suited to people who want to play with the latest twist in technology. There isn't any question that this little crowdsourced concept remains the leader in what will one day be a crowded market. The only real downside to owning one now is that innovation will demand a new product every six months to a year.

You can purchase Pebble Steel direct or you can look for any number of original model deals on Amazon. For comparison purposes, you can always check out the Samsung Galaxy smart watch, which has left someone people wondering if it was a solution placeholder. Pebble Steel, by the way, is only being sold in small batches.
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