If you’ve been following the smartwatch scene at all, you’ve probably heard of the Pebble, a smartwatch developed by Palo Alto, California-based Pebble Technology. Pebble made headlines last year when its funding drive to develop its smartwatch through Kickstarter blew past its goal and hit $10 million in May 2012.
The Pebble smartwatch was originally slated for release in September 2012 but the project was plagued by delays. At CES earlier this month, Pebble Technology CEO Eric Migicovsky announced that Pebble smartwatches would begin shipping to Kickstarter backers on January 23.
Smartwatches are intended to be companions to smartphones, providing quick bits of information like caller ID for incoming calls and alerts for new voicemails, emails, and text messages at a glance. In order to know what to display, the smartwatch needs to connect to the smartphone and be configured and this can be done through an app. Pebble Technology just released its smartwatch manager app in the App Store today, just in time for the recipients of the first batch of Pebble smartwatches shipping out this week.
The Pebble Smartwatch app is free and available now in the App Store. You can’t do anything with it unless you have a Pebble smartwatch, which I don’t, unfortunately. The app’s description describes four things the app does:
- Notifies you when software updates for Pebble ready [sic] to install
- Installs and remove custom watchfaces onto your Pebble
- Sends ping test messages to your Pebble
- Helps you troubleshoot issues
We covered the release of another smartwatch manager app for another company, Metawatch, who has also released a smartwatch that works with the newest iPhone models. Metawatch Manager debuted in the App Store in October 2012 as the company’s own smartwatches started shipping out to customers.
If you’re wondering about the differences between the two when it comes to software, Pebble has opted to offer an SDK so that developers can create apps for the Pebble Smartwatch and these apps are installed directly on the Pebble and run on the watch itself. Metawatch also has an SDK but it’s for developers to create new or modify existing iOS (and Android) apps to interface with the Metawatch smartwatch. So with the Pebble smartwatch, its functionality will come from apps installed and run right on the watch itself while the Metawatch smartwatch will pull information from compatible apps running on your iPhone or Android smartphone.
I was tempted by the Pebble Smartwatch but didn’t participate in the Kickstarter for it. I did fund the Metawatch Strata Kickstarter project and expect to receive it within the next couple of weeks. The two watches are very different cosmetically but that aside, I’m interested in seeing how the functionality of each works out in the long run given the constrasting approaches the two companies have taken from the software side.