The little startup that essentially laid the foundation for your Apple Watch, Samsung Gear S timepieces, Android Wear gizmos and so on appears to be going through an identity crisis of sorts, as many rivals undercut its prices and build quality, with substantial layoffs prompted by flagging sales and profits.
Ironically, the healthy future of Pebble might be in the hands of not just its own engineers and developers, but software and especially hardware partners working on ways to squeeze the last possible drop of functionality and productivity out of the Time and Time Steel.
Partners like FitPay, which sought and received monetary backing on Kickstarter for the wrist payment-enabling Pagaré smart strap, and now Powerstrap, the creators of the Pal Strap. This is a simple, convenient and efficient GPS-supporting band and battery extender that needs only $80,000 to materialize in the fall.
Roughly half of the goal is already realized, so you have to figure raising an extra $40K in 28 days will be a formality. The early bird special price of $65 has unfortunately expired, but the Pal Smartstrap feels like a solid bargain at $80 as well, since it allows you to accurately monitor speed, distance, elevation and route for up to 24 hours without tethering to a smartphone.
Lightweight, durable and water-resistant, Pebble Time and Time Steel’s Pal hooks you up with seven days of additional battery juice, or 24-hour uninterrupted GPS operation. The thing uses a Qualcomm SiRF GPS module, packs a 250mAh cell and an advanced micro-controller handling GPS data calculation, power management and active communication with your smartwatch/fitness tracker.
Too bad you can’t get it before October, though perhaps Pebble will roll out some better-looking smartwatches in the meantime. If not, the Time and Time Steel are cheaper than ever before, at $110 and $190 respectively on Amazon.