The smart phone market is saturated : nowadays, everyone and their mums and dads are having smartphones. So for tech companies, bringing new stuff onto the market isn't so easy anymore. In the past, it was just all about increasing the size of mobile devices, but in most countries, the size of the smartphone seems to have hit the 5 inch barrier, above which most consumers find a phone too large.
That's why manufacturers are pushing the smart watch so much : if you believe them, 2014 will be the boost year for wearable devices. After all, Google will release its Glass device into the wild. However, most smart watch prototypes seem more like a mini smartphone on your wrist. Large bulky devices, with touch screens and too much functionality crammed into a too small screen.
This is where the Pebble shines : with its black and white screen in low resolution, it seems almost a mockery, as someone jestingly released a mini Palm Pilot for your wrist. But by keeping the functionality down, Pebble tries to focus onto the core features of what defines a smartwatch : mostly, it's a watch, and not a mobile phone strapped onto your wrist.
It took a while before I took the plunge, and decided to buy a Pebble. So far, I don't regret it : being able to glance to my wrist in order to see what notifications I received on my phone is a gods gift. It is by far the killer feature of the device; something so banal, it's almost incredible, and by far the biggest surprise of the Pebble. Another killer feature are the watch faces : I like watches, and the Pebble offers thousands of creative and sometimes funny ways of depicting the time of day. And the standby time really is stellar : after the first charging, the device was able to hold on for an astonishing 6 days, despite some quite heavy usage.
But the Pebble also has drawbacks, and that seems logical for a technology so young. By far, the Android experience is a bit of a let down : the SDK2.0 offers way more functionality than it predecessor, but the accompanying app on Android (including a real app store), is still in beta, which results in connectivity drops, a slow app market experience and high smart phone battery usage. Granted, the app is still young and in beta, so pointing this out as a large drawback may be a bit unfair. Another thing which irritates me is the 8-app barrier that is built into the device : it can only hold 8 watch faces or apps, which is at least two times too small.
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My favourite app is the Pebble Notifier. It adds the possibility to add notifications for every installed app on the phone. Other than that, I'm quite happy with the Pebble, as long as you keep the notification levels down. Getting involved in FB Messenger conversations while its notifications were up, was very distracting.
But it's great for the really important notifications, and phonecalls.