Pebble’s Fantastic Smartwatch Is Growing Up

Pebble’s Fantastic Smartwatch Is Growing Up

It’s been almost three years since the original Pebble (still one of the very best) closed up Kickstarter-shop with over $US10 million, and now the little watch that could has a true successor. This is the Pebble Time. It’s thinner. It’s got a colour screen. It’s got a microphone. And…it’s on Kickstarter.

Like the Pebble and Pebble Steel before it, the new Pebble Time still has a battery-sipping screen but this time it’s also wider and in colour. Meanwhile, the body that it fits in walks a fine line between original plastic Pebble and the Pebble Steel, sporting a stainless steel bezel on the face. It’s also slimmed down by some 20 per cent, which means that maybe it won’t catch on your backpack straps or sleeves quite as much as its old, chunkier predecessor. It’s also curved to fit your wrist nicely.

That little hole on the side? It’s the microphone, until now maybe the Pebble’s biggest deficiency. The Pebble Time doesn’t have a heart-rate tracker or anything (unfortunately) but it does have an expansion port so eventually you’ll be able to plug additional feature-adding bands directly into it, which sounds neat and also pretty weird and maybe ugly. But despite the new ports and holes, the Pebble Time is waterproof to 5 atm so it’s safe for the shower or pool.

Last but not least, the Pebble Time is introducing a new operating system for the Pebble, one from the designers of webOS that will fix some of the clunkier software bits of the Pebble that haven’t aged so well. Things like the weather, your step count, reminders, and past notifications will all be organised into a stream that’s right on the homescreen (a lot like Android Wear) instead of inside discrete apps and menus like they used to. But all the old watchfaces and apps that were already designed for old Pebble will still work. And the new OS will be coming to the old Pebbles eventually.

All in all, the Time looks pretty promising. Pebble hasn’t lost sight of what makes it so great (which is to say: being dumb simple) but is also adding in the minimum necessary features that will let it keep up with the Joneses. It’s a little better looking this time around (not hard!) but I’ll have to wait to see one in person to really make a call. It’s no fashion piece sure, but it doesn’t look butt ugly. Still, it’s hard not to immediately start thinking about the potential for a Pebble Time Steel.

The Pebble Time is now available… on Kickstarter, where a limited-time $US160 pledge will net you one of the new smartwatches, shipping in May. After that, it will cost $US200 directly from Pebble.