Backing the Pebble Time
Today I backed the Pebble Time project on Kickstarter, fully knowing that the Apple watch will be coming out in just a few months. I made the decision to go with Pebble on this round of smartwatches for a few reasons. First being the price. I've been using a Pebble for a while, and while I do find it useful, I'm not sure I find the whole idea of a smart watch worth $350+ to me. It is nice to have quick apps and notifications on my wrist, but if I forget to wear my watch in the morning my daily workflow isn't largely damaged. I think that the $150-$200 price range is currently the sweet spot for these watch devices given their level of utility, and the Pebble Time falls right within that range.
The Pebble also completely destroys the Apple Watch (and most Android Wear watches) when it comes to battery life. My current Pebble lasts somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5 days on a charge. I use it as an alarm and as a sleep monitor. If the rumored battery life of the Apple Watch stays true, then I can't use it for either of those things since I'll have to charge it overnight to be able to use it during the day. That aspect doesn't fit my style. That's not saying though that Apple won't improve the Watch's battery in the next generation (iPhone 1 to iPhone 3G style) but for the current generation it just doesn't work for me. I suspect that will be a limiting factor for a lot of other people as well.
Finally the Pebble's extensibility and ease of app development can't be beat. Their SDK has some quirks and the software has issues, but the ability to develop apps that run independent of a dedicated app on the phone is killer. Also the fact that the whole Pebble IDE requires no software other than a web browser really beats the experience of building software for iPhone in Xcode. I'm also excited by the prospect of making smart bands for the Pebble Time that connect to it through the smartstrap port. The ability to add additional sensors and features to my watch just by snapping on a watchband sounds awesome.
I also really want Pebble to succeed. I don't believe that there should be just two different kinds of smart watches. Apple and Google need some serious competition and I think Pebble is just one of many companies that will provide it. Pebble is perhaps the most serious of all of the other smart watch makers out there, given their enormously successful Kickstarter funding round thus far. I hope they go far, and I'm glad to be a part of it.
Arthur Rosa is an engineering manager based in Sunnyvale, California.