Pebble Time :: Ceci n'est pas une critique

by Volker Weber


This is not a review. This an opinion. My opinion.

The world has changed a lot since Pebble introduced its first smartwatch through the most successful Kickstarter campaign. Samsung has shipped numerous Galaxy Gear watches, both with Android and Tizen. There are Android Wear watches, the lot. And finally, Apple shipped their watch. And fitness trackers, smart bands, sports watches, all with Smartphone connections happened.

Pebble Time is flying into this torrent of devices, and this time it is going to be a lot harder. But I believe, and this is the opinion part, that Pebble Time has a very compelling value proposition.

It's not only a revised version of the original Pebble. It's a whole new software stack. It does provide backwards compatibility to all existing 6500 apps out there. But the new operating system organizes everything around time. As you add new apps, you will pin their notifications into a timeline. That's how you will find sports scores in between your mail or text notifications. Everything is in one place. Yes, you can still personalize the watch with your own favorite watch face. Yes, you can still load your favorite app. But most of the time, these will be less in your face.


If you are unfamiliar with the original Pebble, just a few basics. Pebble Time has the same three buttons on the right side, and a single one on the left. The left button always means back. The middle button on the right side means OK/Enter. The other two are basically up and down, and now also "back in time" and "forward in time". That's it. No touch screen, just physical buttons you can operate without ever looking at the watch. This simplicity is key. You don't have to learn Pebble. You just know what to do. It's that obvious.

Pebble Time changes the tone. It's more playful. There are cute animations, almost cartoonish. That is very well reflected in the physical shape of the device with its rounded corners. The watch is very light and flat, the band is soft and comfortable. Most of the time you won't even feel it on your wrist. It is very different from the big slab of plastic that was the original Pebble, or the boxiness of the Pebble Steel.


Pebble Time adds color. It maintains the advantages of the original Pebble: long battery life, always on, readable in bright sunlight. But, it's not all good. Colors are dull, you can't read the display from the side, and once you step inside, it's less readable than the original ink display. When you have more than two levels (black & white), you can render fonts better, icons are smoother, the interface becomes less geeky. But don't expect Pebble Time to compete against Apple Watch or Android Gear in the display space. It's not even a race. You don't get millions of colors, you don't get thousands, you get 64. And they are not nearly as bright as this color picker suggests.

If you have an Android phone, you can use an Android Wear device. Or a Pebble. If you have an iPhone, you can use an Apple Watch. Or a Pebble. Since apps can do more on an Android phone than on an iPhone, Pebble is going to be more useful with Android than with iPhone. That's already the case today, since you can reply to notifications from a Galaxy, but not from an iPhone. Pebble Time adds a microphone, which you can use for short replies or reminders. With Android.


Pebble Time is no Apple Watch. I believe that in a way it is the opposite. Apple Watch feels important. It can be flashy. It's an ambitious platform. Apple Watch is a fine watch, Pebble Time is a Swatch. It serves a particular purpose: keep you in the loop with the events in your life. Nothing more and nothing less.


Have you ever tested the Pepple with a Blackberry 10 Device with hub2watch and or talk2watch app?

Ralph Hammann, 2015-05-28

Mich würde einfach interessieren, was eine Apple Watch im Alltag denn wirklich besser kann? Außer, besser aussehen.

Michael Baum, 2015-05-28

Talk2Watch is not yet Pebble Time compatible. With the original Pebble it works fine, although not headless. It has built-in Amazon Store, but not Google. So it has several compromises, but overall makes the Pebble/BB combination useful.

Joseph Federer, 2015-05-28

thanks for your answer, Joseph!

Ralph Hammann, 2015-05-28

Michael, die Pebble macht wirklich das wichtigste im Allttag. Da legt die Apple Watch nichts drauf. Sie ist manchmal komplizierter, definitv teurer.

Aber sie ist viel ambitionierter. Das fängt schon bei Apple Pay an. Gibt es hier noch nicht, aber wird es geben. Sie hat mehr Sensoren, kann also etwa den Puls messen. Das ist wichtig, wenn man abschätzen will, ob man genug Bewegung hat. Ich kenne Leute, die sich mehr bewegen, weil sie nun wissen, was fehlt. Das ist viel wert. Mehr Leute werden Apps für die Apple Watch entwickeln als für die Pebble. Das liegt an der größeren Verbreitung. Man wird zum Beispiel in ein Flugzeug einsteigen, ohne das iPhone rauszukramen. Es ist noch nicht abzusehen, was in einem Jahr gehen wird. Das kann man auch mal in Ruhe abwarten. Noch sind die Watch Apps nicht überzeugen. Aber wenn es ein Native SDK gibt, wenn Apple mehr öffnet, dann kann da noch ganz viel gehen.

Für das, was wir heute können, also etwa alle Benachrichtigungen stumm auf das Handgelenk bringen, ist Pebble die perfekte Lösung. Naja, nicht ganz perfekt, aber das liegt an Bluetooth. Muss noch robuster werden und wird es auch.

Volker Weber, 2015-05-28

Danke Volker für die ausführliche Antwort.
Da gibt es von meinem Denken nichts hinzuzufügen. Das sehe ich ganz genauso.

Ich denke nur, das die Apple Watch für ein Gerät der ersten Generation, ohne den massiven Mehrwert zu teuer ist.

In einem Jahr, vielleicht zwei sieht es bestimmt anders aus, aber vielleicht auch bei Pebble?

Michael Baum, 2015-05-29

Im Moment würde die Apple Watch im Prinzip keinen Mehrwert gegenüber einer Pebble bringen. Im Gegenteil: Die Uhr müsste nur häufiger geladen werden. Aus diesem Grund ist es sicher eine gute Entscheidung vorerst den Markt zu beobachten und vielleicht auf die weiteren Generationen der Smart Watches zu warten.

Frank Köhler, 2015-05-31

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