This past week, Pebble introduced us to the Pebble Time Round. The watch is basically exactly what it sounds like – it’s a Pebble Time, with a round face. Sounds great in theory. I recently switched from my Pebble Time back to my Moto 360. I wanted to see first hand what improvements recent updates to Android Wear. There have been a lot, and they have been very good. But I started to wonder if “round” was going to help sell more Pebble smartwatches, despite what Android Wear brings to the table.
The tables have turned
I’m worried about Pebble, to be honest. Now that I’m on Android Wear, I’m not sure I want to go back to Pebble. Suddenly on Android Wear, you can launch apps and you can quickly contact people – two things I have been asking for. You can also navigate the device one handed with wrist gestures. The cyclist in me is very happy about that.
In this editor’s opinion, one of the key advantages – app launching – that the Pebble Time had over Android Wear is gone. Now, about the only thing Pebble has going for it is battery life. This is not an insignificant thing. But the Pebble Time isn’t a very attractive watch. It’s more everyday-Casio kind of a look, rather than something classy. But now, it’s round.
The classic look of round
Round opens a lot of doors, from a design aspect to an aesthetic element too. There’s a lot to like about a round smartwatch. I’m speaking from experience here, since my Android Wear watch is the Moto 360 – one of the first round smartwatches. A round smartwatch just looks better than a square one. Of course, that’s in the eye of the beholder, but I think most folks will agree on this particular point. Round looks classier.
Round also adds interesting UI elements to a device, both on screen and hardware. The Pebble Time Round still has the same four buttons, but now they’re spaced out around the outer rim of the watch. This makes the buttons seem more important and they add to the design rather than detract from it. The problem with buttons on a square watch face is you can’t help but notice them. They take away from the symmetry of the watch. In the case of the Round, the buttons also do make the watch look asymmetric, but the rounded buttons look more like they belong.
Pebble also did not go with any kind of “Flat-tire” look like the Moto 360 did. Instead, there is a pretty chunky bezel that surrounds the face. That’s a bit off-putting, but the fact that the watch is round will be more than enough for most to forgive such an “offense”. Plus, as I mentioned before, the battery life on the Pebble is still superior to Android Wear. But will that change anything?
The fact of the matter is, the Pebble Time Round is still a Pebble Time smartwatch. When I first started wearing Pebble smartwatches, I loved the fact that you could launch apps from them. Now that Android Wear does that too, I’m finding it difficult to come up with reasons to go back to the Pebble Time, let along the Pebble Time Round. I won’t be ordering on, by the way. There’s just not enough there any more to really draw me back. Maybe in a few months, I might strap it on again, for the same reason I strapped on the Moto 360 – curious to see what updates have brought. Hopefully I’ll be just as pleasantly surprised.
Is round enough?
But for right now, all the Pebble Time Round is is a round version of the Pebble Time. I stand by my original opinion that it is a good smartwatch. But Android Wear updates have made “good” not good enough. Personally, I think Pebble is in trouble. I like the idea of the round smartwatch, but I’m not sure the Pebble Time Round has enough ammunition to take away from Android Wear. At least not the roundness in and of itself.
Some will prefer battery life. Some will prefer the app ecosystem of the Pebble Time. Some will prefer the look and feel of Pebble versus Android Wear. But all of those things I think are present in the Pebble Time and the roundness doesn’t really change anything. I don’t know if “round” is the solution Pebble needs to push it over the edge.
What do you think? Does the fact that the Pebble Time is now round make a difference to you? Or is the Pebble Time Round a sort of “me too” device that doesn’t really add much of value to the experience? Will you be more inclined to buy one, now that it’s round? Sound off below and let’s see if we can figure this out.