Pebble, the Kickstarter darling that went on to become an international blockbuster, has fared well against new smartwatches from big-name competitors. The key to its continued success lies both in its platform agnosticism and prescience. Pebble has responded well to the changing trends of the budding wearable market. In late September, the Pebble and its pricier companion, the Pebble Steel, saw respective price reductions to $100 and $200. And recently, Pebble’s software was updated to allow for continuous fitness monitoring.
Some speculated those moves were fueled by the debut of Android Wear devices, which occupy the same price bracket and sport identical functionality. The features of Pebble’s newer firmware, however, are a little more brazenly aimed at would-be Wear owners. Last month, the Pebble received full notification support for Android devices running 4.3 or later, and now, the development team is taking the next logical step forward.
Software version 2.3, currently in beta, lets Pebble users interact with Android notifications. Much like behavior on Android Wear, alerts from many apps are actionable — an SMS message can be replied to, for example, or Square Cash requests accepted, an e-mail archived, or a phone call answered. As Pebble has no touchscreen, users rely on its physical buttons to scroll through and select actions.
The Pebble team achieved the new interactions by tapping into the notification which underlies Android and Android Wear. That means developers won’t have to make changes to take advantage of the feature. “Integrating Pebble with Android Wear is thanks to [Google’s] open approach,” a note on Pebble’s blog reads.
The update, which also includes support for auto app updates and Android 4.0+ devices, will be distributed through Google Play to owners who sign up for Pebble’s beta channel.