Pebble Time Smartwatch Sets Kickstarter Ablaze - InformationWeek

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2/24/2015
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Pebble Time Smartwatch Sets Kickstarter Ablaze

Pebble's new Time smartwatch has a color screen. The company blew through its $500,000 Kickstarter goal in mere minutes, highlighting geeks' support for the device.

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Pebble today announced the Pebble Time, an updated smartwatch featuring a new design and a new user interface. The device is available through Kickstarter for a limited time. The wearable won't ship until May, but more than 18,000 people have already contributed to the campaign.

Pebble Time's stand-out feature is the new screen, which now displays color.

The original device and Pebble Steel offer monochrome screens only. Since Pebble uses e-ink technology for the screen, it is able to remain on at all times. Most other smartwatches, such as those running Android Wear, power down the screen to save battery life. Pebble doesn't have to worry about the battery; its power-sipping screen allows it to last an entire week on a single charge.

Pebble Time is a more attractive alternative to the company's original all-plastic device. The Time is 20% thinner, and features a Gorilla Glass screen and a stainless steel bezel, giving it a more high-class look. It's a cross between the original device and Pebble Steel. The wearable is still compatible with 22-mm bands, and Pebble said it will even offer do-it-yourselfers the schematics to 3D-print their own bands.

The Pebble Time, however, is about much more than looks.

The company has reimagined the user interface to make it easier to digest information. There are three buttons on the side of the watch that will take users to the past, present, and future.

Pebble explained: "You already plan your day around time, so it makes sense for your Pebble to be organized around the same principle. Now your notifications, news, reminders, and events are laid out chronologically, instead of being trapped inside separate apps." Pebble said the new UI was a response to the more than 6,500 apps for Pebble, which could hinder usability.

The buttons allow people to jump back to see emails, step counts, or the score from last night's game, or jump forward to see calendars, alarms, and apps. Pebble feels the timeline user interface is a much better way to organize content on the smartwatch.

The Pebble Time

The Pebble Time

Pebble said all existing apps will work with the Pebble Time and the timeline user interface, but it is encouraging developers to update their apps to match the new visual style (and add color). Pebble is compatible with both Google Android and Apple iOS. Some might be tempted to think Pebble competes with Android Wear and the Apple Watch, but it doesn't really. Pebble is more limited in its feature set and costs about half as much as the wearables from Google and Apple.

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Pebble launched the Kickstarter campaign with a modest goal of $500,000. It blew past that goal in minutes. At the time of this writing, Pebble had generated $3.5 million. The original Pebble reached $10 million in funding, but that was over the span of months. The entry-level buy-in of $159 is already sold out. If you're interested in backing Pebble Time, you can still get one for $179.

The Pebble Time will be sold in a choice of black, white, or red and ships in May.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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