Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pebble watch, first impression

I finally received my Pebble watch yesterday.  I backed the Pebble project on Kickstarter last April.  Originally Pebble team projected their ship date to be somewhere in September, but it got shifted out indefinitely as the team tried to figure out how to deal with massive number of orders through Kickstarter.  I got the news that the watches were getting shipped starting January.

The packaging reminded me of Amazon Kindle packaging.  It was made with 100% recyclable material.  Inside the recyclable box, it had two simple pieces.  One Pebble watch and one USB charger cable.

The setup process was simple.  Download the Pebble app, do software update, and pair the Pebble with my smartphone.  Then it was set.

I didn't know what to do next.  When I got done playing around with watch faces, I had to remind myself that my Pebble was connected with my phone.  Yes, the whole point of Pebble watch was that the watch could be used as an extension of my phone display.

Two applications that shipped with the watch were music controller and text message display.  Music controller worked as expected.  It allowed play/pause and forward/rewind of whatever that is being played.  There weren't any surprise with text message either.  It displayed the text message with vibration as soon as my phone received the message.

Overall, my Pebble watch worked quite well.  Starting from packaging to setup and build quality, I think the Pebble team did a good job delivering on their promises.  Yet, I feel that the killer app is yet to be built.

Controlling music and receiving text messages are good start.  But they both require taking the phone out to plug in your earphone and sending the text to reply.  I think the killer application is an alerting app based on location.  Imagine as you move around throughout your day, your Pebble watch alerting you of key information that you might find useful depending on where you are.  Say if you are at the airport for connecting flight.  Your phone figures out the next flight, lets you know that how much time you have until the connecting flight, and gives you direction to the gate.

Many tech giants are already talking about applications like that.  Google is working on its Google Glass, and it has already released Google Now providing users with location-relevant updates.  Apple and Samsung are working on smart watches that can be used as hyper portable and personal tiny screen for timely updates.

Pebble is a harbinger to next wave of portable connected devices.  And it is a solid one at that.

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