Well folks, it’s finally here… sort of. The successor to one of the best — and most popular — smartwatches on the market. No, we’re not talking about anything from Motorola, LG or Samsung. We’re talking about the next generation of the Pebble smartwatch: the Pebble Time.
It’s not available just yet though, and might not be for a while. This time around, Pebble returned to their roots and launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to help produce the next iteration of their smartwatch lineup. You might remember that they skipped the crowdfunding phase for their last model, the Pebble Steel.
Before we jump into the particulars of the campaign, let’s take a look at the new model and the features that are returning, as well as those that are making their debut.
Introducing the Next Generation Pebble Smartwatch: The Pebble Time
We asked for it, and the Pebble smartwatch creators listened. The next generation of the Pebble — the Pebble Time — is using the same e-paper style display only it’s in full color instead of black and white. That feature alone opens up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to software customization. All the custom watchfaces, apps and functions of the device will now be able to take full advantage of a wide range of colors.
Of course, with an updated display that generally means other areas of the device will suffer — more particularly the battery life which you’d expect to be reduced. However, the Pebble creators promise a full seven days of battery life in the Time just like the original models. Praise the smartwatch gods, these guys really get it! Apple better watch out, especially if they decided to go with a smaller battery that lasts only a day or two max for the Apple Watch.
In addition, just because the hardware and software is being updated doesn’t mean the new device needs to leave all the old stuff behind. That is, all 6,500+ existing Pebble apps will work with the Time so you don’t have to give up your favorites while the developers work on something for the new model.
It wouldn’t be a true update without a new physical design, but don’t worry the Pebble Time has been outfitted with just that. The device itself is much thinner (20% thinner to be exact), and uses an ergonomic, curved design that adheres to the natural contours of your wrist. As always, the Time supports custom watchbands of 22mm in size but the most interesting part is that it includes a new quick-release pin that allows you to effortlessly swap out bands.
An integrated microphone allows you to answer quick calls and leave voice reminders for yourself.
Unfortunately, we don’t see any mention of NFC support but there is a “smart accessory port,” which the creators claim will allow “hardware developers to build sensors and smart straps that connect directly to the watch.” To put that into perspective, imagine being able to purchase separate sensors and modules that you can install in your Pebble, such as a heart-rate monitor, true sleep tracker or even an NFC-enabled chip. Ever wanted wireless charging support for your Pebble? Now you can probably attain features like this, provided hardware developers offer these kinds of modules — and considering how popular the Pebble line is, it’s likely that will happen.
We’re hoping that eventually they will launch a stainless steel version of the Pebble Time, just like they did with the original Pebble. For now, there are three color styles available: white, black and red. The color you choose determines what color the bezel and edge is adorned with. You can also order separate wristbands in a variety of tones.
New Hardware in the Pebble Time Means New Software Too
The hardware and physical design aren’t the only things getting an update here. The software and user interface is getting an overhaul too.
Instead of using a whole slew of sub-menus which would require you to navigate through the various levels with the physical buttons on the device — resulting in a tedious experience — the Pebble Time uses a single, seamless UI. The Pebble creators call it the “timeline” in their crowdfunding campaign demo.
With a single click, you can see any notifications, events or alerts that are coming up next in your timeline. In this fashion, you can quickly sort through the most important information without being bogged down by a cumbersome UI. It works similar to the Google Now cards on Android Wear, only the Pebble timeline is decidely more… well, Pebble in style.
In addition, there are new app faces that will offer glanceable content as you scroll through. This means, when you’re sorting through the list of installed apps you can see various tidbits of information such as the number of waiting emails, the current track that’s playing and much more. It works almost exactly like a multi-task interface for mobile devices, only it’s parsed down to accommodate use on a smartwatch.
Just like the previous models of the Pebble, the Pebble Time UI, software and timeline are all open. Third-party and independent developers will be able to take full advantage of the device’s features to offer some truly unique experiences.
We absolutely cannot wait to see what’s possible with the Pebble Time.
The Pebble Time Kickstarter Already Met It’s Goal
The Pebble Time crowdfunding campaign is open now, but it’s already met it’s goal. Backers only needed to pledge $500,000 to launch production of the new device, but the campaign has already raised more than $5 million with 31 days left to go (as of the time of this writing). That’s bonkers! The good news is that you don’t have to worry about not getting a Pebble if you support the campaign by pre-ordering a device (crowdfunding products only ship out if the campaign meets financial goals). The Pebble Time is truly happening.
Here are the reward tiers for the campaign, including the prices at which you can pre-order a new Pebble Time before launch.
- $159 – Early Bird: One Pebble Time watch in any of the 3 colors
- $179 – One Pebble Time watch in any of the 3 colors
- $338 – Two Pebble Time watches in any of the 3 colors
- $845 – Five Pebble Time watches in any of the 3 colors
- $1690 – 10 Pebble Time watches in any of the 3 colors
- $5,000 – 30 Pebble Time watches, 10 of each color
Keep in mind, the $159 price for the early bird models is a considerable discount. When the device actually launches the price will likely be closer to $200 or higher.
What Features Do You Think are Missing from the Pebble Time?
Most of what we asked for was included, such as the color display and comparable battery life. It’s a shame there’s no NFC support out of the box — at least from what it seems like — but there’s promise in the included accessory port. It’s possible developers may produce additional sensors and hardware that can be easily attached. Imagine installing a heart-rate module into your Pebble Time to monitor your RPM.