Before there was Android Wear and the Apple Watch, there was Pebble. Honestly, it kind of started the whole smartwatch trend - sure, there were others before it, but Pebble was the first to really gain what could be described as popularity. In fact, it was the only watch dbrand offered skins for at first. At least until now.
Pebble's newest watch, Pebble Time, ditches the old-school black and white interface for a more modern, always-on, color display. This basically puts it on the same playing field as Android Wear and the Apple Watch. But you know what it has going for it that the others don't?
You can imagine that running around the CES show floor for someone who has been fascinated (as well as convinced and positively influenced) by wearable activity trackers felt like breaking free inside a candy factory. Dozens if not hundreds of brands were vying for everyone's attention and a share of the pie in the tiny wearable market, and I had to check most of the intriguing and known ones to see what they had to offer. Among the hundreds of displays, from the companies I'd never heard of to the recognizable brands like Fitbit, Garmin, and Withings, one surprised me the most: Misfit.
I knew the Indiegogo origin story of Misfit — which translated into skepticism in my mind — and I'd read about its Shine tracker and simpler/cheaper Flash version, but I wasn't completely convinced by the quality nor the premise of the brand.
Like the Pebble Steel before it, the Pebble Time Steel doesn't change the internals found in its plastic sibling, except for a larger battery, which will apparently provide this model with up to 10 days of use.
The Pebble Time still has almost a month to get more pre-orders on Kickstarter, but it's already passed the $10 million mark, which is the record set by the first Pebble. In preparation for what is sure to be a big launch for the company, the new v3.0 update of Pebble's SDK is now available. Developers can start building apps for the Time, and they'll work with the regular Pebbles in the meantime.
When the time came to unveil its second generation smartwatch, Pebble returned to the crowdfunding site where everything began. Setting the bar low, the company only wanted $500,000 to call the Pebble Time project, the name of its new watch, a success. Within half an hour, it had already reached a million dollars. Now the project sits over $10.5 million with 29 days left to go.
Pebble played it smart with this campaign. Without having to part with a single device, the company has already attracted millions in funding and stirred up plenty of anticipation. Nearly 50,000 people have thrown money at the project thus far.
Can a grown-up company return to the kiddie pool of Kickstarter funding to help with its new product? Of course it can - this is how development works now! This morning the makers of Pebble announced Pebble Time, the company's second generation of Pebble hardware, launching exclusively through a Kickstarter funding campaign (like the record-breaking original two years ago). The company hit its modest $500,000 goal less than half an hour after posting the page.
The Pebble Time gets new hardware goodies like a color e-paper screen and microphone, enabling an experience that's more in line with what smartwatches have become over the last couple of years.
Pebble's website is currently home to a big countdown clock that is tracking the hours between now and 10AM EST tomorrow, February 24th. At that time, the company is expected to unveil information about new hardware and software.
Today we've caught a glimpse of both. The company briefly hosted this image on its servers before taking it back down.
The image shows a black, rounder Pebble with a color display. The four buttons used to navigate the on-screen interface—one on the left and three on the right—remain present on this updated model. 9to5Mac reports that the device will be thinner and come with a completely redesigned software experience, a Cortex M4 processor, and a 6-axis gyroscrope.
The Pebble continues to chug along even with Android Wear garnering most of the limelight among the Android faithful. Today's Pebble update adds a few new features, some borrowed from Wear, and some that improve on it. You'll need the recently released v2.9 firmware and the just released app (v2.3), but it's quick to update.
Big tech companies are hesitant to admit when a competing platform offers something that they don't. But the folks at Pebble are more than ready to take advantage of the functionality introduced by Android Wear. The team has pushed out a beta that lets the Pebble not only interact with notifications, but respond to them in a manner akin to an Android Wear watch.
Instead of swiping from the right repetitively to access various options (as you would with Android Wear), Pebble lets you access different options using the three physical buttons available on the side of the watch.
Developers don't have to do anything to optimize their apps for Pebble.