After two successful crowdfunding campaigns, Pebble is back for a third try.
Pebble returned to Kickstarter today to rack up preorders for its first-ever update to its original Pebble, the Pebble 2, and its first big change to its pricier Time smartwatch, the Pebble Time 2. The company also debuted its first gadget outside of the smartwatch category: a $69 little box named Core that clips on to your shirt or keys, has no display, tracks your runs with GPS, and can sync and play songs from Spotify (or stream it, if you add a SIM card).
Across the board, the new focus is fitness.
The Pebble 2 is expected to ship in September, The Time 2 in November, and the Core in January. The Time Round, Pebble’s only circle-faced watch, remains part of Pebble’s line up (un-updated), while the original Pebble, Pebble Steel, Pebble Time, and Pebble Time Steel watches will be phased out.
Let’s break down what’s new.
Pebble’s namesake smartwatch has transitioned from flagship product, to budget option, to full-fledged Fitbit competitor.
The Pebble 2 looks a like the smartwatch that debuted on Kickstarter in 2012, but now it packs a heart rate monitor and larger screen into a thinner design. The look of the watch is decidedly “sporty,” as Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky’s called it in an interview with VentureBeat — that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as this smartwatch was designed to compete in the fitness category.
- Display: Same 1.26-inch size, black-and-white e-paper, Gorilla Glass
- Heart rate monitor
- Battery: 10 days (up from 7)
- Body: thinner design, new colors
- Ships: September
- Price: $99 on Kickstarter — $129 later
The Time 2 packs the features of the Pebble 2 into a sleeker design — though, I’d argue, it’s not as sleek as the (so far un-updated) Pebble Time Round.
According to Migicovsky, health and fitness has “become one of [Pebble’s] major focuses, kind of answering that question of ‘what are people actually doing with smartwatches?'”
The way that we’re moving in life is having the sportier side of the house, as well as the more stylish side. And that’s just how Pebble will roll.
- Display: larger screen (“50% larger”), higher-res, color e-paper
- Heart rate monitor
- Silicon rubber strap (not leather)
- Battery: 10 days (same as Time Steel)
- Body: same Time Steel body, three colors (black, gold, silver)
- Ships: November
- Price: $169 on Kickstarter — $199 later
Nothing like the Core really exists today. It’s a cute little box that streams music like a modern-day iPod Shuffle (that’s Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky’s comparison) — and I must admit, I still have a soft spot for the original Shuffle.
The Core is for runners who don’t like running with their phones, at a time when smartwatches aren’t smart enough to replace our phones. It works on its own, or in tandem with a Pebble smartwatch. It’s a niche product. It’s also open and “hackable,” allowing developers to potentially create new uses for it.
According to Migicovsky:
The reason why people take their phone while they run is because they want to stream Spotify — the want to stream music, Apple Music, whatever — and they just can’t do that with running watches these days.
So we started looking at what it would take to integrate those features into a watch. There are some people who are experimenting with 3G in a watch, but you start getting bigger — the watch gets bigger, it gets more expensive, and all of the sudden you have a hockey puck on your wrist. And the battery life just drops off. So we decided to solve that problem in kind of a different way — kind of crazy: we actually split it up, and created a completely new type of wearable called the Pebble Core.
The Core really is a product of its time: it’s an admission from Pebble that there’s no easy way to fit cellular connectivity or GPS into a smartwatch. The technology isn’t there, or the components are too big, or it’s too expensive — who cares why? What matters is Pebble is releasing a little wearable next year that does what its smartwatches can’t: it tracks your run on a map and connects to 3G. At $69, it’ll be interesting to see if the little clip-on cube actually sells.
- Clip-on wearable sans display
- Spotify support: Syncs playlists to internal storage (support for other services may arrive, too)
- SIM card: add your own to stream Spotify
- Built-in headphone jack, bluetooth
- Other functions include hailing Uber, it’s “hackable”
- Battery: 9 hours “playing music and tracking GPS,” optional wireless charging
- Ships: January 2017
- Price: $69