Wearable technology has always been about two key points: the kind of technology the device contains, and the aesthetics of the device itself. If one point falters, the product itself is inherently harmed. Pebble recently showed off the Pebble Time Steel, a refined smartwatch that seems to advance both sides at once, offering new features and a new look.
The Pebble Time Steel is essentially the Pebble Time, but in a stainless steel outer casing. The casing itself comes in a choice of three finishes: black, gold and silver. This gives users a choice in terms of what color goes best with a current ensemble, and Pebble gets the possibility of selling multiple devices to one user. Reports also suggest that the Pebble Time Steel has picked up an extra three days on its maximum battery life to bring it to a total of 10 days on a single charge, which is said to be quite a bit more than the ordinary smartwatch.
The Pebble Time Steel does, however, retain many of the same design characteristics as previous Pebble entries. It's said to be similar in design to the Pebble Steel, but takes the basic shape of the Pebble Time. It also offers many of the same features as earlier entries, like a built-in microphone, color e-paper display and water resistance so no one need be concerned about it getting caught in the rain. But there's one more refinement in the “Smartstrap,” an extra accessory available for both Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel. The Smartstrap allows third-party developers to bring out smart add-ons using the device's watchband as a focus. Smartstraps could boast, for example, a heart rate sensor for fitness tracking or a GPS chip. There are even reports that the Smartstrap could host a spare battery, further extending the life of the device.
Reports suggest that the Smartstraps will start shipping later this year, so it will be a while before we see these devices in action for a better handle on how well they function. But one thing is quite clear: Pebble is going up against the Apple Watch, and needs to augment its devices to ensure they can compete effectively. There are plenty of people who didn't buy any kind of smartwatch at all since Apple (News - Alert) wasn't in the market, and probably a few Pebble buyers who bought Pebble because it was the second choice. For Pebble to keep these buyers from straying to Apple, it needs better hardware and a better presentation than Apple can offer, and tools like the Smartstraps may just pave the way to better sales.
It's going to be interesting to see what Pebble's sales look like after a few months of competing with the Apple Watch, but knowing what we know so far, Pebble can never be accused of not taking the Apple threat seriously. It's made too many refinements in its line for that, and seeing Pebble take on Apple should be quite a sight.
Edited by Dominick Sorrentino
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