The first Pebble smartwatch was so popular when it launched via Kickstarter in 2013 that its maker couldn’t supply enough to satisfy demand as it set a record fundraising. But, since then, Apple has created more buzz in the smartwatch category than any smartwatch to date. Pebble fans have likely been wondering what the company would do to remain relevant.
The new Pebble Time, being launched via another Kickstarter campaign, offers various enhancements over the two prior Pebble smartwatches, including certain unique features that not even the Apple Watch can claim. An example is the smart accessory port to be added later in 2015 that will provide a way for other companies to add additional sensors to Pebble Time. Pebble Technology has also boosted battery life to seven days and shifted from a black and white to a color e-paper display.
Also new are a microphone, a 20 percent slimmer design and a new timeline interface that highlights what’s important in the user’s day. The timeline organizes all kinds of relevant information, including appointments. And Pebble is asserting its independence from the smartphone platform makers via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that can push information from the Internet directly to the timeline without any apps required. Another feature coming later this year is voice to text, which adds voice recognition to the user’s apps. Pebble Time is fully compatible with the more than 6,500 existing Pebble apps for iOS and Android. The company is also fielding the new model in three colors: black, red and white. And unlike the original that was months away at the time of its campaign, Pebble Time is shipping in May at $199. The company has set a goal of raising $500,000 by March 27.
While it’s starting to be a very crowded space. Pebble Time has potential thanks to its wide set of features, and brand recognition. It remains to be seen if the Time has what it takes to slow the Apple Watch juggernaut, although as noted on the special edition of the Backerjack podcast devoted to it, the new Pebble model has a clear price advantage over the $349 and up Apple device..