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Anxious for the Apple Watch? The Pebble can be your gateway smartwatch

Andrew Hayward | Oct. 30, 2014
Pebble is a useful bit of tech that you can enjoy now and for months to come, and should you feel the urge to upgrade to the Apple Watch, you might thank your transitional smartwatch for easing the initial shock of adding yet another screen to your everyday life.

Perhaps "impulse buy" isn't the right descriptor, but at that price, the Pebble takes on new life as a gateway device: something that'll get your mind and body attuned to the sensation of wearing an intelligent, connected device on your being. Having a small, customizable screen on your wrist--with notifications and vibrations in tow--is very different than simply having a smartphone in a pocket or handbag.

For standard wristwatch wearers, the Apple Watch may well amount to sensory overload at first. All that color and flash and modern design, boosted by the dazzling, icon-packed UI and various touch interactions. Practically, I know that I have an Apple Watch in my future when spring rolls around, and I'll drop the $350-plus if it lives up to its clear potential. For both personal and work needs, as someone who covers Apple products and the wider gadget field, that's a certainty.

If you're in a similar boat as a prospective Apple Watch buyer, what the Pebble offers today is just enough functionality to get you used to having a smartwatch in your life. I'm acutely aware of how much time I spend staring at screens each day, and was concerned about amplifying that with a smartwatch. But wearing the Pebble, I find that having notifications buzzed to my wrist makes me less likely to pull my iPhone out of my pocket every other minute, especially when silenced.

Having a smartwatch has helped me feel a little more focused; it takes the edge off of the consistent worry I have over missing emails and calls. That's been a surprising difference for me in my early days of wearing the Pebble. And as someone who likes a well-considered plastic watch, it's also an attractive accessory. Not Apple Watch-attractive or nearly as refined, but it's less than one-third of the price. The Pebble doesn't feel cheap or chintzy; for $100, it comes off as a solid value.

A transitory watch
Meek as the Pebble might seem in feel and function compared to the upcoming Apple Watch and the various Android Wear options, it's a fine little device that's been lightly enhanced over time. Notifications--be they emails, messages, calls, or app alerts--are reliably transferred from iOS devices following improvements, and Pebble recently added background fitness tracking via a software update. 

In February 2014, Jason Snell wrote about his first year of wearing a Pebble, and the biggest takeaways will be reassuring to some: it tells the time, you don't need to charge it every day, and "it's not a phone and doesn't try to be one."

For some wearers, a Pebble will offer plenty of wrist interactions with their phones, and an Apple Watch purchase won't seem quite as necessary. Many of us want the added flash and the functionality, albeit at a much higher price. But I imagine some who try a Pebble will feel plenty content with what a $100 device has to offer, and not feel the urge to snag an Apple Watch immediately come spring, if at all. 


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