Both Apple and Pebble will be releasing their new generation Smart Watches in the next few months, and for sheer James Bond coolness who wouldn’t want one?
For every kid who wanted to be a secret agent whispering mission objectives into their watch this is finally the real deal! Sure it’s cool, but can a grown up actually justify one as a business tool?
Some people might argue that the new watches are only doing a cut down version of what your phone is doing anyway, so why bother? But then – your phone can tell you the time too, so why would you wear a watch to check the time?
(No – really think about what’s convenient about a watch?)
If you said “Because it shows me the time right there on my wrist without having to pull my phone out of my pocket” then the Smart Watch is going to expand on that ability. If you said “It’s more of a fashion accessory”, well the SmartWatch has you covered there too.
The Smart Watches can not only tell you what time it is, by synching with your calendar and phone they can tell you what your next appointment is, when you’ve received an email (or SMS or voicemail). You can add reminders, new appointments and answer emails using voice control. The alternative of course, is to pull out your phone, which is fine – if you have a free hand or two. So the SmartWatch is basically a personal hands free kit.
As well attaching these essential business functions directly to your wrist, the Smart Watch will have other apps including weather, remote controlling the music on your phone and you’ll be able to change the digital watch face whenever you feel like it. For the fashion conscience that means you can match your watch to suit your outfit (or your mood) making them one very versatile accessory.
So Apple or Pebble? The Pebble Time Smart Watches will sync with either Apple or Android phones, so it’s open to both users. To me, the main advantage of the Pebble will be the e-paper display. E-paper works a bit like an etch-a-sketch – once you’ve drawn on it, the image stays there effortlessly until you clear the board and change it. That means that the Pebble will only need power when the time is changing (once per minute), then it goes to sleep with the time still showing.
• E-paper display is much more power efficient, expect to charge once a week.
• Current time is displayed in sleep mode-no need to wake the watch up to see the time.
• Easily read even in bright light, so you don’t need to tilt the screen around to avoid glare.
• No touch screen – 4 buttons let you scroll through options with a long press giving access to quick functions.
•Timeline will cache and upload apps as you need them, replacing the old 8 app only system.
• Water resistant for showering, the Steel version is expected to be waterproof enough for swimming but Pebble haven’t finished their testing yet.
• Uses a standard watch strap, so you can attach any strap you like.
• Retail is set to be $200USD or $300USD for the Pebble Time Steel, but early birds can still get discounts by pre-ordering on Kickstarter.
• Blacklit Touchscreen – there is no doubt it looks gorgeous with high definition bright colours, but that screen sucks power like a super-villain. Apple THINK you will be able to charge it every night, but they are estimating the batteries will last 18 hours under standard use, or as little as 3 hours under heavy use like phone calls. Keep in mind that’s for a brand new battery, so 6 months down the track you may need to recharge your SmartWatch several times a day if you actually want to use any of these cool features.
• The Apple Watch will go to sleep (turn blank) to preserve power. You’ll need to wake it by flicking your wrist or pressing a button, which puts an end to those discrete glances at your watch during meetings.
• The backlit screen will be difficult to read outside – similar to reading your phone screen.
• Touch screen functionality with a scroll wheel (Digital Crown) to make things easier. The Watch seems to do most things you would normally do on your phone, but based on reviews by people who’ve tested the Watch it may be less frustrating to pull your phone out than to try to navigate the tiny touch screen.
• Apple is still a bit tight lipped about the water resistance. Most reviewers are expecting it to withstand a splash, but it probably won’t be something you can wear in the shower.
• Retails $350USD for a basic Sports model to $22,000USD for the gold plated models.
• You need to own an iPhone 5 or up to use it.
Philosophically Pebble say they are trying to augment your iPhone – not replace it, while Apple boast that they have gotten an entire computer onto a single chip.
Personally I think Pebbles approach is better – by trying to do everything your phone does Apple have actually lost some of the functionality of a … watch. It’s not showerproof, needs charging at least every night and while it has a sapphire crystal overlay it’s still a touch screen so you probably don’t want to wear it playing squash. The Pebble gives you everything you need in a watch, with some hands free functionality that’s pretty cool and at a lower price.
For those of you champing at the bit for a new toy, you can check out what Apple and Pebble have to say about their own products on their links below.
So what do you think? Apple or Pebble?
Jen & Dave