The Verge has today reported that Pebble shipped its one millionth Pebble at the end of 2014, as well as revealing plans to launch new watches in 2015.
This is great news, as hearing very little from Pebble for some time had me wondering if all was well at the company.
While there have been many OS updates for Pebble users, and the developer community still release new apps from time to time, there’s no denying that things were beginning to look a bit stale since the second half of 2014. You could be excused for thinking that Pebble might be fading away as all the big boys enter the market with bigger and better devices.
Pebble has certainly been lagging behind in the press once all the media attention diverted towards Apple and the myriad of firms releasing Android Wear compatible devices.
Although, that’s not to say that some people aren’t still saying the Pebble is still the best choice (this again from The Verge).
However, for a lot of people the Pebble is now old, and in the world of tech, that naturally means it is seen as outdated and possibly even obsolete.
That makes it all the more important for Pebble to do something to get some press attention coming back in its direction.
As I’ve written before, none of the fancy new smartwatches really appeal to me, but even I would like to see something new. Who wouldn’t?
Less is more
It’s not that I’m against colour screens, heart rate monitors, GPS, integrated storage, higher resolutions that make it possible to display photos or logos, or even the more gimmicky features like a camera or integrated SIM to receive calls or messages directly.
The Moto 360 and LG’s G Watch R are extremely sexy watches, but these and every other watch suffer from one thing that serves as a deal breaker every time; battery life.
The Moto 360 is particularly bad, which is such a shame as I really wanted it to be my next watch. It really is a thing of beauty, but it’s just not practical.
Poor battery life is the sole reason I’m not currently interested in anything else to replace my original Pebble. The Apple Watch needing daily charges looks set to be another one to ignore (irrespective of the fact that I am primarily an Android user so it wouldn’t work anyway), although I am hopeful that Apple will help make the smartwatche become less geeky.
That is assuming it doesn’t flop massively and end up helping to kill off the market entirely. Despite everything Apple attempts usually turning to gold, I have a bad feeling about its entry into the smartwatch arena.
I don’t even think it looks nice, let alone the rather ‘interesting’ method of operation that appears too clever for its own good, and that of its users.
Back to basics
Android Wear offers a few extra features over what Pebble users can currently enjoy, but support for Android Wear is coming to existing Pebble watches soon (with a beta available to those who want to experiment). Sure, it will be black and white, but adding Google Now cards to the notifications is going to be very welcome.
According to the Verge story, Pebble is developing all- new software that could be very different to what is on offer today. That partly fills me with excitement, but also a feeling of dread.
What if Pebble feels the need to go down the colour-screen route, or implement a touch screen, at the expense of the long-lasting monochrome display and buttons that are easy to press in the dark, or when wearing gloves?
Notifications are the most important benefit for me, so hopefully they’ll continue to come through in the same simple way – allowing me to scroll through multiple notifications with ease before dismissing them and getting on with whatever I was already doing.
I use them to see if I need to take out my phone to follow something up, or answer a call, and that’s what my Pebble is used for 95% of the time.
I don’t want or need a watch that tries to replace my phone. No watch can replace a phone with a 5-inch HD display, quad-core CPU, oodles of RAM and a fast 4G data connection. I can’t even begin to understand why anyone would think a watch should, rather than simply letting get a short peek at what’s new in a matter of seconds.
Don’t forget your roots
Pebble needs to keep things simple. Let me keep the always-on clock display, perhaps with a weather forecast or details of an upcoming appointment, and that’ll do nicely. For the majority of the time, I just want my smartwatch to look and act like the a plain dumb watch.
Maybe some location-aware notifications would be useful, as Google is now introducing on Android Wear, but please keep them simple.
I don’t need fancy battery-sucking transition effects. Sure, they’ll look cool (especially when showing the watch off to others, or when the video reviews start appearing) but I really really don’t need them.
Let me continue to install simple apps to check train times or monitor my movements and sleep patterns, but don’t feel compelled to use a bright colour display for the sake of it.
If a colour screen is considered a must to compete with other watches, please base it on some form of clever low-powered colour display, such as that used on the Qualcomm Toq proof-of-concept watch first shown in 2013.
I really hope the next Pebble won’t ‘sell out’ by trying to outdo what is being offered by the likes of Samsung, Motorola, LG and Apple.
That’s because the only smartwatch for Pebble to beat is… the Pebble itself.