I got my Pebble watch recently. I was excited for this watch for a few months. The idea of having notifications on my wrist was an exciting idea. The Kickstarter advertisements of having notifications from RunKeeper come through on my watch while running was why I wanted this watch. However this was not to be because at the time of writing this blog article, there was very little the watch could really do. The only thing it could do is tell me the time, display that I have phone calls and the ability to control my music. The lack of having a stopwatch is very surprising because that is almost a basic feature for digital watches. The great thing is that updates for the Pebble are coming soon and there are no wires required to connect to the Pebble to upgrade it is all done via the app. Having the battery die in one week was something new to get used to as watches with batteries seem to last months to years. All of these little things distract from the overall user experience but I am hopeful that the Pebble will deliver over time.
Let’s take a step back, this concept of the ability to tell time has been around for a while. First portable time devices were the pocket watch and that required people to synchronize time against the central clock at home or in the town square. This was powered by winding up the clock, no batteries yet and still very manual. The Pebble is currently better than a pocketwatch.
I love my battery powered watch. It was given to me as a gift and it is better than a watch I would have chosen myself. However it suffers from the lack of connectivity, where am I, which timezone am I in? Having the ability to automatically correct itself depending on where I am or whether it is daylight savings time, would be really useful. I almost missed a connecting bus departure due to daylight savings time, good thing my iPhone changed it’s time automatically.
The ability of having a watch know where I am or if it is daylight savings time, invokes the notion that the watch is somehow smart, or better worded a smart watch. But is this really a new idea? It is the current hype with Apple and Samsung since both are rumoured to have smart watches coming out. There are currently watch straps for the iPod Nano so that you can wear as a watch. This could just be Apple observing and testing how people may interact with a watch that can do more than just telling time.
I don’t think the idea of a smart watch is a new idea because cartoons such as Dick Tracy from the 1930s portrayed a world were a talking watch was how one could communicate. It is now in 2013 that we have the technology to really make watches communicate and become smart.
I look at my current Pebble and I like it for it signals a new era for watches but I don’t love it yet. Here is a list of things I would like to see happen in this space to make the watch useful given the current hardware of the Pebble.
- Simple functionality such as a stopwatch/timer
- Show turn by turn direction of when to turn so I dont have to have my phone out
- Show me information like a news ticker, latest tweets, what’s happening in the world, how far I have walked tooday (like a Nike fuel band)
The Pebble’s technology with e-ink is nice but I think if Apple/Samsung step into this area, e-ink won’t be something that consumers will really care about. Having colour and touchscreens will make the Pebble obsolete. I hope that the Pebble team get their act in gear and use their current momentum to build a fan base that will support them through to the future.