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The Pebble smart watch smashed its $100,000 Kickstarter campaign goal over a year ago, raising more than $10 million through the crowd-funding website, and the unofficial predecessor to Apple's anticipated "iWatch" started reaching customers some months back. In this article, AppAdvice goes hands-on with Pebble, and offers readers an insight into what life's like with the popular smart watch at one's side. It's been over a month now since the Pebble smart watch - perhaps one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns in the history of the website, and arguably one of this year's most talked-about gadgets - reached my right wrist. This might sound a lot like Apple blasphemy, but during those final days as my jet back Pebble peddled across the United States, paddled over the Atlantic, and cruised along the motorways of Britain towards my front door, it felt an awful lot like I was about to receive a next-generation iDevice. This is because Pebble, much like Apple's iPhone and iPad, is something of a game-changer, due largely to the fact that it's what many have chosen to call a "real" smart watch. Of course, we've seen similar products claiming that title in the past (there's Cookoo, for example, and a number of Linux-powered wristwatches surfaced in the first decade of the new millennium), but Pebble's impressive combination of competent hardware and well-attuned software made me and countless others shiver with anticipation back in April 2012, when its Kickstarter video first aired online.
Using the smart watch, you can therefore check on incoming calls, read through texts and emails, and even receive social network notifications all without touching your smartphone, and thanks to Pebble's impressive battery life this sci-fi-style kind of tech-glory can last for a full seven days without a recharge. Though different prices were offered in the original Kickstarter campaign, iDevice owners can presently preorder Pebble online for $150, and it's been said that a number of Best Buy locations across the United States are once again set to stock the smart watch in the near future (though we don't know exactly where, or when). However, one downside to preordering Pebble at this moment in time is the wait: from what we've been told, the Pebble team is still working on shipping orders placed towards the end of last year, meaning new preorders are likely to take a long, long time to fulfil. Let's begin, then, by talking about Pebble's hardware, starting firstly with the smart watch's display. More importantly, though, this energy efficient black and white display can be viewed in direct sunlight.
At the minute, there are five different colored Pebbles available to preorder online: Jet Black, Arctic White, Cherry Red, Orange, and Gray.
One downside to owning and using a smart watch is that while wearing it, it's incredibly easy to scratch the product's screen. Fortunately, this is something Pebble users can counter in advance through the use of a screen protector.
Surrounding Pebble's watch-front are four buttons - one of the left, and three on the right - all of which are plastic, and come out to around 1-mm or so. The left-hand button sits alongside Pebble's charging port, and is simply a "back" button, while the three right-hand buttons are used to navigate through the smart watch's various menus, apps, and watch faces (and correspond to "up," "select," and "down"). Pressing buttons while on the go isn't a problem: since Pebble is strapped to your wrist, there's no danger of dropping and breaking the product, and bringing your free hand round to access all of the smart watch's buttons is easy to do.
That being said, for the most part, users will find that while on the go they're only really interested in one button - the "back" button - since this allows users to dismiss notifications as they appear on-screen, and to activate the smart watch's built-in backlight. Talking of Pebble's backlight, the smartwatch ships with an accelerometer built in, and this cleverly allows users to sort of "shake" this backlight into action.
Finally, all Pebbles ship with watch straps, which are rubber and don't feel too bad against the skin. Though Pebble's hardware ticks all the boxes, what makes the smart watch truly shine is the operating system that powers it, and how this OS - called Pebble OS - talks and works with our iPhones. Notifications are Pebble's forte, and as a notification-receiver the smart watch works perfectly.
After users have configured Pebble with their iPhone, then, notifications are pushed over to the smart watch's screen. You can use Pebble's "up" and "down" buttons to scan through messages, and incoming notifications are also accompanied by a short (and largely silent) vibration.
It's not possible to compose and send text messages from Pebble, however jailbroken iPhone users can download a jailbreak app called Smartwatch Pro, which makes it possible to send off precomposed response messages from the smart watch.
If you happen to be popular and receive more than one un-dismissed notification, then Pebble will stack up your messages, allowing users to browse through them one at a time (with the most recent appearing first).


Pebble OS has proved to be responsive throughout the course of my testing, and the software also features a number of built-in applications which can be accessed through the smart watch's menu. These apps include a Music application, which allows users to control the iOS Music app using Pebble, and a Set Alarm app.
Further down the menu, the Watchfaces app allows users to select a watch face for their smart watch.
Finally, a Settings app allows users to adjust Pebble's notification options, to connect or disconnect the smart watch, and to reset Pebble entirely. Below this application, any additional third-party apps downloaded online will also be included. Pebble OS works well and provides Pebble users (and developers) with a sound platform for the smart watch. This combination of hardware and software results in Pebble's impressive battery life, and my smart watch has indeed reached the seven-day milestone quoted by the Pebble team (online, there are reports of Pebbles lasting beyond this estimation, too, though one imagines that this depends on the number of notifications delivered to the smart watch each day). Pebble maintains a good connection with its accompanying smartphone, and I've been able to leave my iPhone out of reach, and walk around the house (even venturing upstairs) without the Bluetooth connection dropping.
In addition, iOS 7 also adds support for system-wide notifications to Pebble, allowing users to easily configure all manner of push notifications - regardless of the app - to work with the smart watch. It's also worth noting that the "Pebble Watchapp Directory" in the Pebble forums provides a space for developers to post their latest and greatest watch apps, along with their new Pebble-compatible iOS apps and app updates. After having worn Pebble for more than a month now, it's a difficult and somewhat troubling thought to imagine life without it. This is because the smart watch is an impressive and highly usable piece of wearable technology, which does precisely what it promises to do, perfectly. Both hardware and software are well designed, well matched, and as such the finished product is great. It's difficult to comment on how Apple's iWatch might affect Pebble's future success, and the next year or so is undoubtedly going to be crucial for both companies. Indeed, Apple's M7 coprocessor, which is included on the iPhone 5s, gives us all an idea of exactly how smart the Cupertino, Calif.
That being said, if you take a chance on Pebble now, we don't think you'll be disappointed. We are happy to release our newest chart, where you can see all the tech specs and compare side by side the top smartwatches of 2015 in one simple chart.
Pebble is advertised as an e-paper smart watch, however though the Kindle-esque term "e-paper" kicks up associations of Amazon's e-reader devices, it's worth noting that for all intents and purposes the product's 1.26-inch screen is actually a liquid crystal display (LCD). First, the LCD (or, to be more specific, the Sharp-manufactured MemoryLCD) makes Pebble's seven-day battery life possible: having no battery-hogging backlight-powered display built into the smart watch is a big, big power saver.
Unlike Apple's iDevices, checking on Pebble in the great outdoors is no problem, in either rain or shine - because aside from the benefits of the smart watch's LCD screen, Pebble is also entirely water resistant. However, if you've got the black model like me, you'll also find that the smart watch's screen cunningly looks larger than its 1.26 inches, since the display merges in with its black plastic surround (provided, of course, that you're using a white-on-black watch face).
Though the Pebble team asserts that the smart watch features a "scratch resistant" screen, early reports soon indicated that it was nevertheless easy to catch and scratch Pebble's plastic screen while on the move.
For my Pebble, a screen protector from Gadget Wraps is being used: these retail online for $9 and are barely noticeable once applied.
I've found that a simple flick of the wrist is good enough in this respect, allowing me to activate Pebble's backlight while on the move, without having to press a single button. However, users have the option of switching these with their own 22-millimeter bands, which can be purchased online from the likes of Amazon or eBay.
As such, Pebble users will find that audio tone alerts on their iPhone soon become entirely redundant: for the last month, I haven't heard my smartphone cry out its "marimba" or "tri-tone" call, and this has been an entirely refreshing, almost therapeutic tonic. The same goes for email, though users can dismiss incoming calls using one of Pebble's buttons.


There's no way to skip through messages, and so notifications must be scanned through entirely before moving onto the next.
Both work well, with alarms waking users through short vibrations at the wrist (rather than an audible noise), which is definitely more of a relaxing and less intrusive way of waking up. Though Pebble comes with three different watch faces built in, using the iOS application it's possible to install additional third-party watch faces on Pebble quickly and easily.
You'll need to be browsing using your iPhone, though, since linked watch face - and watch app - files must then be opened in the Pebble iOS app.
It should also be noted that users must uninstall iOS applications using the Pebble iOS app, rather than the smart watch itself. Built in applications run entirely as advertised, and as mentioned, the Set Alarm app puts a refreshing spin on waking up in the morning. Apple's iOS 7 brings support for low-energy Bluetooth 4.0, which Pebble supports, and as such the smart watch is set to become even more efficient once its users have installed the seventh iteration of Apple's mobile OS. The Pebble team should therefore be commended for what they've achieved with their smart watch, and for $150 the price is more than right.
Pebble is above all a notification receiver with basic watch app functionality, and if Apple's iWatch comes in offering more advanced, more intuitive, and - dare it be said - "smarter" technology, then Pebble's right to even call itself a "smart watch" could be jeopardized. Most iDevice users are purchasing Pebbles with the mindset that this time next year, a more impressive and more accessible Apple smart watch could at least be in the pipeline (if not on Apple Store shelves).
The Pebble Steel Smartwatch Carbon Fiber Skin Protector goes beyond your traditional Pebble Steel Smartwatch Carbon Fiber screen protectors, skins, covers, and cases. Below you will find our graphic that lists the technical specifications of the best 10 smartwatch for the summer 2015.
This trick, however, doesn't work on different colored Pebbles, whose screens may, for some, overtly seem to be a little on the small size (despite all Pebbles having the same 1.26-inch screen). This is a great and largely under-discussed feature, and something Pebble users will undoubtedly appreciate.
Just remember to grab a screen protector before first wearing the smart watch, as unlike an iDevice, Pebble is always exposed to the elements and indeed benefits from a bit of extra protection in this respect. This can be downloaded free from the App Store, and guides users through the process of connecting one's Pebble to an iPhone using Bluetooth. Though it would make more sense for a long-press of the "down" button to bypass a notification at once, this is only a minor qualm and something Pebble users won't find too annoying. However, most of the third-party software available for Pebble can be downloaded free of charge, which is great.
TechSkin is made from the same film material used to protect luxury cars, military aircrafts, and NASA space shuttles. You can even check on the connection using Pebble's iOS app, and if the connection fails, reports can be sent directly to the Pebble team from within the application. The Pebble Steel Smartwatch Carbon Fiber Skin Protector is custom made to specifically fit the Pebble Steel Smartwatch Carbon Fiber. The second layer is a thick, puncture resistant film to minimize damage from scrapes and dents.



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