Can the Pebble smartwatch attract iPhone and Android users?

pebble-smartwatch-colorsCheck out our full review of the Pebble smart watch.

Collecting an astounding $1.5 million on Kickstarter in the last 36 hours, the makers of the InPulse wristwatch accessory for the BlackBerry have launched preorders for the Pebble smartwatch. Designed to work with iOS and Android smartphones, the Pebble smartwatch connects to the phone through Bluetooth and can display Caller ID for an incoming call, notify the user about incoming emails or upcoming calendar appointments, display weather alerts, and provide social media updates from services like Facebook and Twitter. Exclusive to Android smartphone owners, the Pebble can display SMS text messages on the watch display.

The black and white e-paper display has a native resolution of 144 by 168 pixels that allows users to view the watch clearly in bright sunlight similar to an Amazon Kindle. The Pebble includes a a three-axis accelerometer with gesture detection allowing users to dismiss notifications by a quick shake of the wrist. The rechargeable battery keeps the Pebble going for at least seven days and the watch can be recharged via USB through a computer or wall socket.

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The display on the watch stays active at all times and includes a backlight to read the watch at night. In addition to an anti-glare optical coating, the Pebble is designed to be scratch and shatter resistant. After the Kickstarter project hit one million, the development team also upgraded the initial batch to be water resistant in the rain or while swimming. The development team is still working on a specific depth regarding water submersion. 

The Pebble smartwatch is compatible with Android devices running OS 2.3 and above in addition to the “iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S running iOS 5 or any iPod Touch with iOS 5.” However, the Pebble smartwatch is not compatible with the Windows Phone, BlackBerry or Palm operating systems. The development team is distributing a software development kit to encourage developers to create applications for the Pebble and have upgraded the internal hardware to help. Compared to the InPulse for the BlackBerry, the Pebble has twelve times more RAM and eight times more Flash memory. This was upgraded to support running multiple applications at the same time. For instance, a user can use the exercise application to keep track of stats while still being able to receive notifications regarding a new text message or email.

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Shipping with the first batch of Pebble smartwatches, the development team is including a variety of native applications. The running or cycling application syncs with the GPS on the smartphone to keep track of distance traveled, speed and the current pace. In a partnership with FreeCaddie, the golfing application allows users to view the distance to the green from any spot on 25,000 courses around the world. The music application ties into music stored on the smartphone and allows users to play, pause and change tracks all from the watch.

The final version of the watch is expected to ship during September 2012 and will be available in jet black, arctic white, cherry red and an unannounced color to be determined by fans. The final version is expected to ship at an MSRP of $149.99, identical to the cost of the recently released Sony Smartwatch for Android phones. Anyone that contributes to the Kickstarter project before it closes on May 18 can preorder a jet black Pebble for $115.

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