Pebble Watch: your smartphone’s new best friend

by Denis Semchenko

Feature-loaded smart watches aren’t a new concept, yet many of us are still fond of them. Do you recall the assorted LCD-screen, calculator-adorned Casios of the ‘80s? They were as funky as anyone could have imagined at the time and can still be spotted adorning the wrists of the retro-conscious hipsterati. But do they have a modern-day successor that brings Back To The Future imagery to life? The answer is yes.

Even though we’re spoilt for choice these days as far as state-of-the-art electronic timepieces are concerned, only a scant few of them tick every futuristic box. In this article, we’re going to have a look at the 21st century watch and perhaps the hottest gadget to come out in 2012: the Pebble watch.

When I found out years ago that my best friend had acquired a USB-equipped watch, I knew gadget-y timepieces had truly arrived – but there was no way I could forecast the emergence of an astonishing device like Pebble. Mind you, that was still in the pre-smartphone/wireless internet era where Bluetooth was a revolutionary concept and the pager memories – remember that ’90s communication sensation? – were still relatively fresh. Nobody could imagine a “phonewatch” that wouldn’t look like a brick strapped to your wrist, let alone perform what’s commonly termed ‘useful things’.

So what does the Pebble watch do? Think about a common scenario where you’re busy jogging, riding your bike, pumping weights or doing cardio at the gym and all of a sudden your phone gets an urgent call and you can’t take it. Familiar much? Fret no more: Pebble takes care of the potential irritation by instantly letting you know who’s trying to reach you without interrupting your pedometer score during your workout.

Appearing seemingly out of nowhere, the invention made Palo Alto, California-based Eric Micigowsky a bona fide Silicon Valley sensation. Previously the mastermind between the Android-oriented inPulse, the American developer thought up a watch that would be able to connect to both iOS and Android devices through Bluetooth. After initially struggling to find funding for the project, Pebble attracted nearly 69,000 backers and raised a record amount of $10 million on Kickstarter – vastly trumping the initial $100,000 goal – in less than three months.

Running under the “Customise your perfect watch – it’s as easy as downloading an app” slogan, Pebble makes the trivial act of reaching for your mobile in your pocket or purse seem old-school. The watch delivers your text messages (if you’re an Android user; there’s currently an iOS upgrade in the works), displays the caller ID, checks your email, Facebook and Twitter and acts as a pedometer. Bet your trusty iPod would frown if it could! You can USB-charge Pebble through your computer and it won’t go flat on you like an iPhone after several hours of heavy use: its battery lasts seven days.

Aimed at precision like every top-class timepiece, Pebble offers a neat range of watchfaces : new-look digital, vintage clock dial or word clock. In addition to being gym-goers’ and walkers’ new best friend for life, cyclists will relish Pebble’s GPS and accelerometer functions: just strap it onto your bike handle and it’ll do the rest for you. Golfers will be also pleased to learn that Pebble makers are currently cooperating with Freecaddie on a golf rangefinder app that would work on over 25,000 courses worldwide. Swingin’!

Sleek, attractive-looking and immaculately designed, Pebble puts most similar-vein devices to shame. Newly-upgraded to Bluetooth 4.0, the watch currently retails for US$150 (Pebble keep getting hammered with pre-orders as we speak, so you might have to wait a little before your cherished timepiece arrives) and comes in white, black and cherry red colours. What’s even more exciting is that anyone can now create an app for Pebble since it’s open-SDK. The watch is literally an open platform for invention on top of being a remarkable invention in its own right.

Now there’s something we’d like to know: would you get a Pebble watch?

by Denis Semchenko

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