Over the weekend I resurrected my Pebble smartwatch. And now, as you can see here, I’m apparently the owner of a brand-new Pebble Time Steel—if you live in Canada they’re currently on sale for $249.99 CAD at Best Buy, less than what I paid for my Kickstarter Pebble Time last summer.
But wait, you say, didn’t you swear off Pebble forever last fall? Yup. So are you full of it or what? Probably. If you’ll indulge me today I’ll revisit those deal-breakers and then explain what brought me back.
For my original Pebble Time purchase I chose poorly, simple as that. My new Pebble Time Steel has no PVD coating to wear off. Scratches on its metal bezel are likely inevitable, but they won’t stand out nearly as much as they would on a Black Pebble Time.
I had found a reddit discussion of how Pebble collects data uniquely identifiable to the user and reserves the right to sell it to third parties. What I didn’t know was that the logging of this data can be disabled. Unfortunately doing so will also disable voice dictation, which I imagine is a fairly critical feature for most users. It certainly is for me.
It’s still an area of concern, but Pebble will at least delete your data on their servers if you ask them to.
Chalk this one up to a bad Kickstarter experience. I did eventually get a refund on that extra Pebble Time that my girlfriend didn’t want, but had I just waited for the Canadian retail début a return to Best Buy would have been a non-issue.
Okay, so with that out of the way, what’s so great about Pebble?
First, it’s the only smartwatch OS that’s fully functional with Android and iOS—there’s now an iOS app for Android Wear but according to Howard it’s not very good.
Second, Pebble’s Timeline is the best smartwatch UI out there. Period. And personally I’d much rather mash buttons on my Pebble than be all swipey-swipey on Android Wear.
Third, Pebble has exponentially better battery life than either Android Wear or the Apple Watch. As an added bonus, the screen is perfectly readable in pretty much all lighting conditions.
Fourth, in this nascent era where the smartwatch’s “killer app” is still notifications on your wrist, Pebble easily gives you the most bang for your buck. This also applies to the Pebble Time Steel, which has the heft of a proper timepiece without the sticker shock of its Apple equivalent.
Fifth, and perhaps most important of all, using a Pebble is fun—the type of geeky fun that I’ve honestly not had since my first Palm Pilot back in the day. I am continuously surprised and delighted at what my Pebble can do, and software updates from Pebble are constantly improving the core experience. And watchfaces? Like many Pebblers, obsessing over finding the perfect one is an almost daily obsession.
Pebble may not be the best choice for everyone. Voice transcription is fairly slow compared to Android Wear, for example. But upgrading to a Pebble Time Steel has made a world of difference for me, and if you’re not yet all-in on Android Wear or Apple Watch then there just might be a Pebble out there for you!