Pebble Is Still King of the Hill

Pebble Is Still King of the Hill

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I woke up today expecting good news.  I thought I’d open my eyes, stretch, reach over to my tablet, load Facebook, and read through dozens of Moto 360 articles.  And I did.  And I died a little inside.

Crying IndianI don’t expect a smartwatch to last weeks or years, but it ought to be able to last a day and a night no matter how much I use it. My watch now dies before my phone does, and that’s unacceptable. – David Pierce, The Verge

Right.

Samsung doesn’t get the point, LG’s is bulky, and Asus’ is…interesting.  The Moto 360 was my last hope for smartwatches this year, and it kinda blew it.  I was really close to buying one, but I’ll be holding onto my Pebble Steel for the coming months.  Here’s why.

The battery lasts an entire week

Most smartwatches today last up to two days with use, but not the Pebble.  My Pebble Steel lasts for 5 whole days if not a little more, and that’s with regular use too.

I’ve forgotten the last time I charged my Pebble Steel this week, but it’s been more than 3 days and my battery’s at 40%.

It doesn’t look half bad, and isn’t massive

For a watch it’s actually on the small side, and while it’s not a Moto 360 it still looks better than the bland LG G Watch and uber-geeky Samsung Gear Live.  It wears a tad smaller than my 42mm Citizen chronograph, and while it’s a tiny bit small on my wrist let’s remember that my wrists are pretty wide themselves.

Besides, the Pebble’s metal bracelet is gorgeous.  Good work, Pebble.  Good work.

It handles notifications beautifully

Today’s smartwatch paradigm revolves around the notion of filtering incoming notifications on your wrist to decide whether it’s worth pulling your phone out of your pocket or not. With this in mind, the Pebble works beautifully.  Sure, the notifications aren’t as good-looking as Android Wear, but you see who’s sending you what, what he’s sending, and depending on the notifying app, even the content of the notification. Third party apps also allow you to receive notifications for any app on your phone – even Google Now.

You can use it with the iPhone too

There isn’t a single mainstream smartwatch on the market right now that works with the two major mobile platforms.  Android Wear is strictly Android-compatible, with no hints of iOS compatibility coming any time soon, and Samsung’s going so far as to lock its Tizen smartwatches into its own Galaxy ecosystem, eliminating even more of the market.

You never know when or why you’ll have to change platform, but at least your $250 smartwatch becomes more than just a paperweight.

However…

The Pebble is, arguably, functionally superior, but Android Wear’s tight integration with Android means that it can do so much more than simply forward notifications. Voice commands and Google Now integration take functionality to a whole new level, and tight integration with Android apps means that your watch becomes an extension of your phone, and not just another separate entity.

I’m not arguing that Pebble’s miles ahead of the competition, but it is far enough ahead to be noticed.  My problem with current smartwatches is that you’re buying $250 of potential and half-realised dreams – but it’s only a very short matter of time before someone else does it right.

Pebble, I hope you’re paying attention to this space.

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