Last year one project became the poster child for the crowdsourced funding site, and that project was Pebble. They shot to fame when they overshot their funding goal by $10,000,000. The result was they had to rethink their business plan, their whole manufacturing process, and their timescales, in order to try and satisfy the demands of all their backers.
While the delays were hard to swallow as we all waited patiently to live in the future, last Friday mine finally arrived at my doorstep from Singapore. Was I excited? Very. Did I feel bad that it arrived before my manager's, the guy who convinced me to back the project (a few days after him)? Not really. I was too busy unboxing and, given as I am to the zeitgeist, posting the unboxing to Vine.I'd already installed the Pebble app on my phone in anticipation when I got my shipping email. There are already some great reviews of the Pebble, so I'm going to focus on my first full day wearing it and what that was like.
The first thing I liked about the watch was, stop me if this seems a little obvious, being able to tell the time by looking at my wrist. I haven't worn one for three years when the strap on my Diesel knock-off from Malaysia broke. Yes, I'm so lazy that I went three years looking at my wrist and being a little disappointed. Actually, when Siri was first released I had high hopes that that would be my new way of finding out the time: pressing the button on my headphones and saying "what's the time?". Nice idea, but there's something wrong with having to not only vocalise that question (and not to another human being), but then waiting for that audio data to be uploaded to a server, interpreted, sent back to the phone and then read back to me. Just as I was about to mend my watch, Pebble came along and I decided I could probably wait a little longer. So: teling the time, awesome. The "text watch" theme gives the time in a lovely two or three word form such as "two forty". The only downside is it's americanised, and so you occasionally get things like "five after three" instead of "five past three". If and when I get my hands on the SDK I might take that into my own hands.
Ok, so I'm sitting on the train and my wrist vibrates. A text message from a friend about the evening's plans: I glance at my wrist and I can read the whole thing, without getting my phone out. I know this sounds like a small gain, but let's just consider how fiddly it is to get your phone out of your pocket while sitting on a train. Not convinced? Well, I find it quite fiddly! Ok, so it's not really overcoming of phone extraction that I liked so much. It's the fact that this workflow felt much more natural, and I felt like I'd been less disturbed by not having to check my phone but simple being fed the one piece of information I needed right there and then. It's really an issue of human self control, but now that our phones have become our main communication and entertainment devices there is a real draw to continue to interact with it after the original reason for checking it in the first place.
So I spent the rest of the day wandering around Shoreditch, occasionally getting messages from Facebook, texts, and the odd Twitter @-reply and genuinely enjoying not having to get my phone out but being able to screen these notifications from my wrist. Clearly I'm easy to please. I use my phone as my radio while at home, playing through a bluetooth speaker. While I'm out and about I pause and play music with the button on my headphones, so the ability to do it from the watch isn't so useful. At home, however, this is actually really handy if the phone and speaker is in another room.
So that's about it. But is "it" enough? For me, the Pebble does three things that are useful. Just three. But that's three really useful things, and two more than a regular watch. And that makes me a happy pebbler.
Looking for the tl;dr? The picture sums up my view of the pebble.