Pebble, the company that got its start on Kickstarter and went on to make the most popular smartwatch in the world, has a new watch coming this spring.
The third-generation Pebble watch, the Pebble Time, will have an “e-ink” colour screen and a new interface designed to show what’s relevant to you like calendar appointments, reminders, and sports scores. And unlike other smartwatches, the Pebble Time can last up to seven days on a single charge. (The Apple Watch is only expected to last about a day.)
In an unusual move, Pebble won’t be available in stores right away. Instead, Pebble is going back to Kickstarter in an attempt to raise more money for the company and sell the initial batch of units. Pebble’s CEO Eric Migicovsky told Business Insider that with the Apple Watch launching in April, Pebble wants to use Kickstarter to raise awareness that there are other options available.
The original Pebble was one of the most successful Kickstarter projects in history, with nearly 69,000 backers giving $US10.2 million. Backers of the Pebble Time Kickstarter, which goes live Tuesday, will be able to get the watch if they donate at least $US159. The Pebble Time will cost $US199 in retail stores later this year, but Kickstarter backers will get it in May.
“It’s not that big of an assumption to say Apple is putting a lot of effort into the space,” Migicovsky told Business Insider. “One of the reasons why is people who backed us on Kickstarter demonstrated there’s a market for it. We still need people’s support. We’re a small company battling the largest company in the world. One of the ways we think we can do that is taking the fight to the users that actually matter. If you support us, we’ll continue.”
The colour screen on the Pebble Time is different than the smartphone-like displays on devices like the Apple Watch and Samsung’s Gear watches. It can’t show as many colours, but since it’s designed to look like virtual ink instead of a traditional backlit smartphone display, it’s easier to read in direct sunlight and doesn’t kill the battery. The display remains on at all times, unlike the Apple Watch that will require you to lift your wrist to activate the display.
On the software side, Pebble redesigned the watch’s operating system to default to a new “Timeline” view that’s programmed to show you the information that’s most relevant to you. The items in your Timeline appear chronologically, so you can scroll through upcoming appointments, weather alerts, etc. in order. You’ll also get access to Pebble’s library of about 6,500 apps.
Finally, the Pebble Time has a built-in microphone, which will let you respond to incoming texts and emails with your voice and record audio notes to the Pebble smartphone app.
Pebble will continue to sell its older models too. The original Pebble will cost $US99, and the Pebble Steel, a premium version of the original Pebble with a metal body, will cost $US199. The older models will get a software update later this year that includes the Timeline view. All Pebble watches work with the iPhone and most Android phones.