When I first saw the Kickstarter campaign for the Pebble smartphone companion watch, my first thought was, “it’s about damned time”.
Ever since people started putting iPod nanos in watch bands, I realized that I wanted one—except I didn’t want a music player on my wrist, I wanted an auxiliary display for my iPhone. Figuring out exactly what shape the UI would take has been an interesting thought exercise since then, and I’ve about decided that I’d be pretty happy just have the iOS notification center sent to my smart watch: just tell me if I have new e-mail, or who just texted me, and I’ll get my phone out if I need to know more (this has the nice benefit of letting me obsessively check e-mail and other things I obsessively check without looking quite so rude).
Pebble looks like it’s covered that, and more1. Looks. I almost jumped onboard and preordered through Kickstarter, but I realized that if the product in question happens to suck, it’s a) a lot of money, and b) potentially not worth wearing (although I’d probably still wear it as a watch, if only because an e-ink watch would look awesome).
So I resolved to wait for reviews. But, as Mr. Batelle points out in the linked article, there’s high suckage potential because Apple could pull the rug out from under Pebble at any moment2, either through App Store policy (Mr. Batelle’s suggestion) or by releasing a competitor (as John Gruber states in the source link)—or, possible, doing the former to decrease competition for the latter (although that hardly seems necessary on Apple’s part). This, of course, reinforces that what I really want is smart watch hardware from Apple, but if the Pebble is reviewed well, it probably gets me 90% of the way to what I want.
So, I’ll wait and see. But clearly, the idea has legs, what with Pebble now having orders of magnitude more money than they were looking for. Hopefully that means that my long-wished-for smart watch will be here sooner rather than later, from Pebble or elsewhere.
Except, for some reason, neglecting to use the low-power Bluetooth 4 standard. And neglecting to include bluetooth headset and audio functionality—being able to use the watch to answer phone calls Dick Tracy-style seems like a no-brainer, and you might as well let me plug headphones into the watch to listen to music from the iPhone while you’re at it. ↩
One limitation that’s already apparent—for iOS, Pebble can’t alert you to new text messages, because third-party apps (which is what the Pebble uses to pull data from your iPhone) don’t have access to your texts. It’s not a deal killer, but inconveniences like this add up fast. ↩