Here’s what Pebble needs to do to stay in the game after Android Wear’s announcement
For those of you who don’t know, I’m a smart watch guy. When I saw Pebble on Kickstarter, I knew I had to have one. I backed the project right away. Since then I’ve been a beta tester for the 2.0 firmware and the new version of the app, I’ve had to RMA my original watch, and I’m still wearing my Pebble proudly on my wrist.
We’d all heard rumblings that Apple and Google were looking into the possibility of releasing their own wearables, and we saw Samsung‘s Gear line was shown off in the meantime. Then we were all amazed when Google announced Android Wear.
Android Wear is pretty much what it sounds like: Android that you can wear. In this case it takes the form of a watch that not only tells the time, but sends Android notifications directly to your wrist — and they look beautiful!
This is the device that smartwatch fans, like myself, have been waiting for! It looks great. It’s got a very slick user interface. It presents the information that you need, when you need it. And, did I mention that it looks really good in the process?
Unfortunately, you can’t get it. Not yet anyway. All the videos we’ve watched, the pictures we’ve seen, and the information we’ve read have been about what the devices are going to be like — when they finally get here. We won’t know if all the hype is real until we go hands-on with an actual piece of hardware. In the meantime, where does that leave Pebble?
Pebble Android Wear?
The Pebble that we know today has come a long way since its humble Kickstarter days — but it’s no where close to what we’ve seen of Android Wear — at least not on the surface. Behind the scenes, Pebble is doing a lot. Not only that, Pebble is compatible with both Android and iOS, which is no easy task.
Perception is an important component of any product or solution. When we finally get to use devices powered by Android Wear, we may find out that Pebble is more robust behind the scenes — but if Pebble doesn’t look as slick and polished, its sales will likely suffer.
The question now turns to how Pebble can respond to this threat to not only remain relevant, but to improve upon what the public thinks devices running Android Wear will be.
Pebble Version 2.5?
Pebble recently released version 2.x of the firmware that powers its hardware, and the corresponding app and SDK for users and developers to take advantage of it. Google just released a preview and emulator of Android Wear.
Pebble is situated such that it already has great hardware, and even occupies two different price points. It’s got a development staff already spun up that has intimate knowledge of the hardware, software, and operating systems they support. Pebble could potentially release the very first Android Wear device, and push a “version 2.5” update to all the Pebble’s out there. This would make Pebble the largest Android Wear distributor on the market — at least for now.
Pebble Version 3.0?
Some advantages of the yet-to-be released Android Wear devices are color screens that you control by touch rather than buttons. Pebble has a black and white screen and physical buttons. The reasons why Pebble took this route made sense, and are still valid even today. However, when I showed my brand new Pebble to my kids, the first thing they did was try to swipe across the screen. The days of physical buttons are quickly fading into the past. Black and white screen are already there.
The next major release of Pebble needs to include a touch screen, and that screen needs to be in full, beautiful color. How that can be accomplished without sacrificing readability in the sun or requiring the device to be charged every day remains to be seen, but we think Pebble is up to the challenge, and expect to see amazing things from the company in the future.
We reached out to Pebble for comment, but had not received any feedback by the time this article went to press.