AP reviews Pebble smartwatch: Demonstrates potential of wearable computing

“You have a cellphone, maybe a tablet. Sometimes you lug around a laptop. Do you really need one more gadget on you?” Peter Svensson writes for The Associated Press. “Yes, you do. You need a smart watch.”

“At least, that’s what I learned after I got the Pebble, a $150 watch that connects wirelessly to iPhones and Android smartphones to notify you of incoming calls, texts and emails,” Svensson writes. “The Pebble has a lot of rough edges, but it does a good job of demonstrating the potential of ‘wearable’ computing. Apple has filed patents that demonstrate it’s working on a watch, and other ‘smart’ watches are proliferating.”

Svensson writes, “How many times have you missed calls and texts because the ringer was off, and you didn’t feel the vibration because the phone wasn’t on you? Or you forgot to turn the ringer off, and it rang at the wrong time? These things used to happen a lot to me. The Pebble put an end to that. When you get a call, text, email or calendar reminder, the Pebble vibrates. You can set it to provide you with Facebook notifications, too. Because it’s strapped to your wrist, it’s a signal you can’t miss, yet it’s unnoticeable to anyone else. After a few days, I turned off the cellphone’s ringer and vibrating alert – and left them off. The Pebble’s vibrating alert was right for every situation.”

Read more in the full review here.

MacDailyNews Take: With history as our guide, if/when Apple enters the smartwatch market, it will define what a smartwatch is. All other smartwatch makers, whether they have already products on the market or not, will then understand what a smartwatch is supposed to be and they will begin mimicking Apple’s moves.

Those who tread too closely to Apple’s patented IP should be sued back into the stone age.

23 Comments

    1. $150 for a remote cell phone ringer is not a bargain in my book. They got to market first, but with limited functionality. I’ll give them some credit for listening to the talk on the technology blogs and doing something about it. But it remains to be seen if they can maintain a meaningful presence over the long run.

  1. Poor Pebble.. A small startup with a great idea ahead of all the big boys, did the indie thing, ran a Kickstarter campaign, got funded, and were first to market by at least a year..

    Unfortunately, they will be squashed.

    1. Just because you’re 1st to the market doesn’t mean you have beaten “The Big Boys” Apple and every other tech giant has something in the works and probably could have released 5-10 iterations by now. Getting to market with the right size, features, style, battery life, etc… in addition to covering your ass with patents is the trick! If the the pebble gets squashed it will be due to inexperience.

      1. I didn’t say Pebble has beaten anyone, I said they were “ahead of all the big boys,” and, they were. Pebble had a great idea and introduced the concept and kickstart campaign several years before any talk or rumors of an Apple iWatch or Google glass or Microsoft smart watches. When they get squashed it will be because they are a small start up against 800 lb gorillas.

  2. I’m an old guy who is also a sailor.

    I spent years buying feature watches only to have them fail at some point: Seiko, Casio, whatever. I loved the features and suffered through the failures. Bummer.

    My wife bought me a stainless steel Rolex Sub over 13 years ago. Its never let me down. It’s a tool, just like a trusted pocket knife. Pretty f**cking far from jewelry. I like it.

    The bar is pretty high for quality wrist stuff. We’ll see how this plays out.

  3. I have a Pebble. Well at least I had a Pebble – it crapped out yesterday while sitting on my desk. Seems like a common issue with many folks.

    The Pebble is an interesting idea but so far it fails to live up to it’s own markets. Under iOS it fails to do most of the things it was supposed to do. Pebble has spent lots of time blaming Apple for this. Naturally they get lots of support from the Android folks.

    I’m not hopeful that I’ll get my watch replaced – 2 days so far and no answer to my request for an RMA.

    The Pebble is build cheaply and it far too low a quality. The battery only lasts 4 days or so which is far too little for a produce like a watch to be widely adopted. The firmware is hacker level – almost no polish even after numerous updates.

    I also have an iPod nano in a watch holder and the difference is night and day.

    The Pebble does “legitimize” the segment only to the extent that that the tech press thinks so (and they’ve done precious little evaluation of it). If an iWatch came out with any level of customization and support, it would crush Pebble like a little bug.

    Plus the guys running the company are amateurs. They’ve made plenty of mistakes but their latest one was getting Best Buy to sell it – before they honored the shipment of all their Kickstarter and pre-sales backers and with the watch in it’s current crappy state.

    1. I also own a Pebble. After 5 weeks of wearing it the battery lasts a paltry 2 days and 3 hours. I have sent an email to their support team asking if this is what one should expect of a device whose battery is advertised as lasting 7 days. I got the familiar notification that they’d received my email, but that due to an overwhelming number of emails coming in to them at this time, I should expect that it may be some time before I hear back from them. Not really the kind of response to elicit confidence or loyalty. I agree, they will not be around in a year, unless it’s to service the Android market.

  4. I have a Pebble, thru the Kickstarter campaign, and as noted in the article, it’s a hint at what a true smartwatch could be. It’s great for what it does, text, phone calls, and weather, thru forecast.io’s API.

    But, it’s hamstrung by not being tied into Apple. I can only imagine what Apple could do with full access to iOS.

  5. This is a new market segment we’re talking about, one with the potential to disrupt adjacent markets—seemingly a signature specialty of Apple’s.

    Therefore I tend to view all this talk about iWatch as a pivotal test for Apple’s CEO Tim Cook.

    Will he, as his savvy and mesmeric predecessor Steve Jobs once did, keep the miracle recipe simmering on the back burner until done to his taste, and only then announce the savoury result to the world?

    Or will he buckle under the pressure of the lampreys and release it half-baked?

    More popcorn, please. The fate of the Universe is hardly at stake, but only idiot pundits ever claimed that in the first place. What’s actually important to us—the quality of our lives—could very well be profoundly affected.

    1. I would be shocked and amazed if Cook handles the release of the iWatch any differently than the venerable SJ would have done, except in terms of style of presentation. Steve Jobs knew Tim Cook too well to have entrusted the future of his brainchild to him, only to have the world awaken to the fact that he doesn’t know how to run the company, in all of it’s aspects and complexities. Steve trusted Tim implicitly. (Just my opinion, based on what I’ve read mind you.)

  6. The Pebble is a start. But Apple could be putting that out on the market already, seeing as the iPod Nano has already been there, mostly done that, as a proto-smartwatch.

    (And no, I won’t bother to address silly comments to the contrary. So have fun trying).

  7. We are about to launch the HOT watch that will change the perception of what a smart watch can do. From touch, gesture and private call from utilizing your hand as an amplification device. Google Hotsmartwatch and tell me what you think?

  8. My god those Pebbles are ugly. I would not have one on my wrist! Apple will have to be very careful on the design of this so called iWatch – if it actually goes ahead. I’m not sure how they can make a watch that everyone wants, as hardly anyone I know wears a watch! For those that still do, look at how different watches are these days – so many tastes, sizes, colours and materials. Is it possible to make a watch that is truly desirable, customisable, fashionable and most importantly useful? I just can’t see how Apple will address all of those problems without some sort of compromise. Will the iWatch be unisex? If so, surely that limits the size the watch can be, as women inherently having more dainty wrists than most men. That is one of many problems they face and it will be very interesting to see what emerges from Cupertino…if anything at all.

  9. mdns take is so dramatic and childish on this one….anytime i imagine an mdn blogger i think of some fat 30 year old living with his parents bent over his mac 24/7

  10. “Svensson writes, “How many times have you missed calls and texts because the ringer was off, and you didn’t feel the vibration because the phone wasn’t on you? Or you forgot to turn the ringer off, and it rang at the wrong time? These things used to happen a lot to me.”

    SO you need one electric gizmo to remind you to check your other electronic gizmo. At some point the “watch” gadget will have some short comings, but fear not as manufactures will come up with another device. Probably a pendant you wear around your neck.

    This device will vibrate, flash or even heat up to remind you to look at your watch gadget which in turn will remind you to look at your smart phone. We are nothing more than financial cattle to these manufactures that need to milked often.

    If you’re that busy in your life that you need multiple gadgets to remind you to look at another gadget, then you need to clear the clutter in your mind and you’ll then find you don’t need all that crap.

  11. I agree with MDN take, however, I still believe that all of this em-PHA-sis on “smart watches” is overblown. I just don’t think people are really going to wear this techno-hype, nor in-turn, buy it. But if I’m wrong, and I rarely am, Apple will indeed show the rest of the world how it should be done – and in-turn, the rest of the world [i.e., samsung] will copy it and then cry foul when Apple defends it’s products.

    (and repeat as necessary)

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