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An Introduction to the Pebble Watch

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In this article, Jason R. Rich takes a look at the Pebble smart watch that wirelessly links to the iPhone. Discover what makes this cutting-edge $150.00 gadget tick, and what this digital watch can do out-of-the-box. You also learn what’s possible when third-party apps are installed into the watch.
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In recent months, there’s been a lot of hype related to the possibility that Apple may soon introduce a smart watch, called the iWatch, which would link wirelessly with an iPhone and serve as a remote screen while also offering the functionality of an everyday digital watch. Well, the iWatch may be just a rumor, but a Palo Alto California-based company, called Pebble Technology, has already released a $150.00 smart watch that’s available now and offers some interesting functionality when you use it with an iPhone.

Crowd Source Funding and Your Fellow iPhone Users Have Made the Pebble Watch a Reality

Not long ago, as a startup, Pebble Technology utilized crowd source funding via Kickstarter to raise funding. Between April 11, 2012 and May 18, 2012, the company raised more than $10 million (and presold upward of 85,000 watches).

Word-of-mouth spread so quickly about the Pebble smart watch that between January 2013 and June 2013, the company sold a total of 92,000 watches via its website. Then, in early-July, Pebble Technology teamed up with Best Buy. In less than 1 day, the company’s sales rose to 275,000 units and quickly went into backorder status.

Discover What the Pebble Watch Can Do Out-of-the-Box

The Pebble smart watch is a slick-looking wristwatch with an e-paper digital display and built-in Bluetooth that enables it to wirelessly communicate with the iPhone. Like the iPhone, the Pebble watch is fully customizable using an ever-growing selection of third-party apps, which include hundreds of unique clock faces, as well as apps that provide additional functionality beyond what’s built into the watch’s operating system.

Yes, the Pebble can display the current time and date, but then again, so can a basic Timex or Swatch wristwatch. However, when wirelessly linked to an iPhone (or Android phone), it can also alert a smartphone owner of incoming calls and display Caller ID information on the watch face. In addition, the Pebble can display incoming text messages as they’re received by the iPhone, plus display current weather, Calendar alerts, Facebook messages, Twitter messages, and keep track of timer or stopwatch-related alarms.

In addition to displaying information on the 144 x 168 pixel watch face (which utilizes a black-and-white e-paper display that includes a backlight for night viewing), the Pebble can vibrate or utilize a three-axis accelerometer that’s built in. The watch’s rechargeable battery lasts about 7 days per charge and can be recharged easily using the supplied custom USB cable that connects between the watch and a computer.

Thanks to its Bluetooth compatibility, the Pebble watch is fully compatible with the iPhone 3Gs, iPhone 4/4S, and iPhone 5 that’s running iOS 5, iOS 6, or iOS 7 operating system. What’s great about the Pebble is that it’s waterproof (rated at 5 ATM), so it can be exposed to fresh or saltwater and be taken to the beach, used in a pool, or worn in the rain. From a comfort standpoint, Pebble is lightweight, and the display is easily readable in a wide range of lighting situations, both indoors and outside.

Currently, the Pebble watch casing is available in five colors (black, white, red, orange, and gray) and comes with a rubber watchband. However, it’s compatible with almost any 22-mm watchband.

Third-Party Apps Dramatically Expand What Pebble Can Do

Beyond the watch’s core functions, literally hundreds of third-party app developers are currently working with Pebble Technology to create specialized apps that will soon greatly enhance what the watch can do. For example, the Pebble watch can access the iPhone’s GPS and Location Services capabilities. As a result, one app developer has released an app called Cyclists. It serves as a full-featured bike computer that can monitor and display speed, distance, and pace data in real-time as a bicyclist peddles.

Another app developer developed an app specifically for runners, and there are several apps designed for golfers that serve as a rangefinder. One golf-related app already works on more than 25,000 courses worldwide. Also available now are a variety of game apps (many of which are rather simplistic, such as tic-tac-toe), as well as productivity apps for the Pebble.

From a practicality standpoint, if you keep your smartphone in a pocket or purse when it’s not actually in use, the Pebble on your wrist can alert you of important information, without the need to access the iPhone. As new apps are released, the watch enables wearers to utilize various other iPhone functions, again without having the phone in-hand.

Decide if Your Wrist Deserves a Pebble Smart Watch

If you want to get your hands on a Pebble watch now, good luck! Due to the backorder status, the wait to get one from Pebble Technology or Best Buy could be up to several months. They are, however, being sold on eBay.com on the secondary market for upward of $300.00.

That being said, the Pebble watch is very much a trendy gadget that’s cool, useful, and versatile. It’s also well priced at $150.00, especially when you consider that the potential for what it’s actually capable of has only first started to be explored by Pebble Technology and its app developers.

Out-of-the-box, a new Pebble watch can be set up in minutes. Simply download and install the free Pebble app from the App Store, and as you’re directed, turn on your iPhone’s Bluetooth capabilities, pair the watch with the phone, and then adjust a few other options within the iPhone’s Settings app.

After a link has been made between the watch and the iPhone, the Pebble utilizes your phone’s Internet connectivity to download and install the latest version of the watch’s operating system. Then, you can browse for and install third-party apps and clock faces.

Pebble Technology offers a few optional apps that can be downloaded and installed via the Pebble app running on the iPhone. However, several independent app stores for the Pebble watch have launched, including MyPebbleFaces.com and PebbleBarn.com. Visit either of these online-based app stores using Safari on your iPhone. Select and download the apps you want to install on your Pebble watch, and then use the Pebble app to remotely install them. The process of downloading and installing a new app or clock face takes less than 90 seconds.

Right now, the majority of the Pebble apps are offered for free. However, some are priced between $0.99 and $2.99. As more powerful apps become available, you’ll most likely need to pay for them. In the meantime, there are literally hundreds of visually interesting and creative animated clock faces that you can download and display on the Pebble’s screen that enable you to customize the watch based on your mood or personality. In fact, you can pre-install a handful of different clock faces and rotate between them by pressing one of the watch’s four function buttons, which are located on the sides of the watch.

Final Thoughts...

There’s little doubt that smart watches will follow in the footsteps of the iPhone smartphone and iPad tablet and soon become the next must-have gadget. Chances are, when Apple does release its iWatch, it will quickly become “the” smart watch to have on your wrist.

In the meantime, several other companies, including Sony (http://www.sonymobile.com/us/products/accessories/smartwatch) and I’m (http://www.imsmart.com), have already announced or recently released their own smart watch designs. The I’m Watch, for example, is priced at $299.00, has a full-color display, and offers iPhone compatibility. The Sony Smartwatch ($180.00) has a full-color touch screen but is only compatible with certain Android smartphones.

If you are an early adapter of technology and want to start discovering what a smart watch can do for you in your daily life without spending a fortune, the Pebble smart watch is a well-designed and powerful product that’s receiving a lot of third-party app support, which means that many different kinds of apps are currently in development.

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