I love the Runkeeper iOS app for tracking all my physical activity…and to make it even better, it finally offers connectivity with the Pebble Smartwatch! This promised functionality is much delayed but greatly appreciated. Check out the video below for more.
Well it ended up being about six months late, but…my Pebble Smartwatch finally arrived! I backed this on Kickstarter knowing it might be a bit delayed (most projects there are), but wow, sure took ’em a while. So, was it worth the wait? To be honest, I’m still undecided. The build quality is very nice and the product is exactly as it’s been portrayed…except for one glaring omission. This is, at its most basic level, just a remote display for your iPhone…what makes it special are the apps it runs to help extend functionality of your phone. I figured that with such a long delay on the manufacturing side, the software would be further along and would blow me away, but that’s not the case. There are no apps. It’ll control the music playing on your phone, and display text messages and some other phone notifications…but its functionality doesn’t go much beyond that. I think this is a problem easily solved and I do expect that situation to improve…but this company can’t afford delays, there are very large competitors eying this market and contemplating a move into it. Pebble needs to move fast, extend their reach and dominate this market or else they’ll quickly be pushed aside by the 800-pound gorillas in the room. Their hardware is good…they need to quickly build their app ecosystem now.
2013 is quickly shaping up to be ‘the year of the smart watch’, as early entries hit the market (Pebble, Metawatch, I’m watch, etc). Following closely behind are an increasing number of big players, few of whom admit to working on a smartwatch but all suspected of doing so. Among them, Apple, Google, LG, and Samsung. Whether products from those bigger companies will hit the market in 2013 is a bit uncertain, but I’d say it’s very likely that at least two of those companies will be shipping a smartwatch in time for Christmas. As the early entries show, the technology is mostly here, with issues seeming to revolve around battery life and overall software/usability.
There’s a new smartwatch on the market, called the i’m Watch. Starting at $349, it acts as an extension of your smartphone, much like the Pebble Smartwatch was designed to be. One cool feature it has though is a speakerphone! The rest is as you’d expect – SMS messages, e-mail, appointments, etc. There are some nice potential fitness applications, too, though from what I saw they seem a bit underdeveloped (for example, GPS tracking appeared lacking).
What’s really interesting here is how this and the Pebble watch are both entering the market a bit rough but seem to have promise. It’s generally accepted that Apple is looking into this market…which in itself means nothing, but you look at the level these watches are at and they’re really close to where Apple would probably need the technology to be. I’d bet good money we see an iWatch hit the market in 2013. Whether or not that happens though, this is a market that is definitely heating up and we’ll see many more companies enter it this year.