The hotly anticipated Apple Watch smart watch - set to launch in April -- is going to have some competition on its hands. Wearable device manufacturer Pebble, which debuted its first smart watch in 2013, returned to its roots by teasing a new watch model on Kickstarter on Tuesday.
The company has already blown past its funding goal of $500,000. At the time of writing, it had already raised more than $4.5 million. The new wearable, called Pebble Time, features a new, always-on and glare resistant color e-paper display that promises to provide up to seven days of battery life and a microphone to allow users to respond to messages with verbal commands. It also features a new “timeline” display that will show users the most important events on their calendars.
Among other new design features, the Pebble Time has a redesigned wristband and a 20 percent thinner form factor that is more ergonomic than its previous models, according to the company. At just 9.5 millimeters thick, it can fit beneath a shirtsleeve. The display, meanwhile, is made from scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass and has a stainless steel bezel.
It is also water-resistant, a feature that is sure to appeal to consumers hoping to use the device as a fitness tracker in inclement weather, or while swimming or surfing. Pebble is also touting the customizable nature of the watch, allowing customers to swap out a variety of wristbands.
The device will pair with smartphones from Apple, Samsung and Android, the company said in its Kickstarter video. The Time will also likely benefit from the more than 6,500 apps that have already been developed for the device. Pebble has also included an accessory port that will allow developers to build new, third-party sensors and smart straps that can connect directly to the watch.
Right on the Timeline
The biggest development, however, is the redesigned interface. Pebble said it was eschewing the familiar paradigm of having functionality based around different sets of applications, as with smartphones. Instead, the Pebble Time’s interface is centered on the “timeline” display. Notifications, news, events and reminders are displayed in chronological timelines, rather than via different apps.
“While developing software for the original Pebble, we uncovered an important problem: apps are an inefficient way to interact with a smart watch,” the company wrote on its Kickstarter page. “As we increased functionality by adding more apps, our Pebbles clogged up. It became harder to quickly find the app we wanted.”
App developers can have their applications add “pins” to the timelines, which the user can then access in chronological order at the push of a button. Pebble already has agreements in place for apps from providers such as Jawbone, Evernote, PayPal, ESPN, and The Weather Channel.
The company plans to retail the device for $199, but made it available for a discounted $159 for about 10,000 backers who signed up on the Kickstarter page. The company is also selling a limited number of watches for the slightly less discounted price of $179. The watch will be available in three colors: red, black and white, with a predicted shipping date of May 2015.