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Apple Watch Time Travel vs. Pebble Time: Just how big a rip-off is this?

Jared Newman | June 17, 2015
WatchOS 2 borrows liberally from Pebble's chronological data stream, but with some big differences in execution.

Where Apple excels

Beyond these conceptual distinctions, there are some differences of execution to consider, and here it's hard not to see Apple as the victor.

Right now, Pebble's Timeline doesn't have a lot of developer support--I count 21 apps that integrate with Timeline--and as a result it doesn't feel like the game-changing feature that it could be. In fairness, it's early days for the Pebble Time, but we can safely assume Apple is going to have less trouble getting developers on board. Even before launch, the Apple Watch accrued more than 1,000 apps--many from major brands that haven't touched Pebble--and Time Travel gives them a chance to occupy prime real estate on users' wrists.

Apple's hardware also lends itself to a time-based interface, with the ability to scroll through time instead of having to tap repeatedly on buttons. I don't get much use out of the Digital Crown now--usually it's easier to just swipe on the screen--but Time Travel could finally make this hardware flourish seem essential.

That's not to say Apple's mimicry renders the Pebble Time obsolete. If you enjoy the original Pebble's always-on display and multi-day battery life, the Pebble Time is a fine improvement. (My biggest complaints so far: The screen can look dim when it's not in direct light, and the battery keeps falling short of the advertised week-long runtime.) I've ordered a Pebble Time Steel for myself, and don't regret it.

At the same time, I don't fault Apple for running with Pebble's signature software feature. This is how competition works, and now it's on Pebble to make its brilliant idea even better. May the smartest watch win.

 

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