While the whole world waits for the Apple Watch sometime in 2015, the Pebble Smartwatch is the most useful and fun smartwatch available right now.
It’s a very practical, pleasantly geeky-looking watch with a plastic case and band (in black, white, or red), and an e-ink screen. (And there’s the Pebble Steel, a version in brushed or matte black stainless, as well.) This screen allows the display to be on all the time, so you can look at it compulsively, which you will, and not draw too much power. Pebble claims that you can get up to 7 days between charges, but as always this depends on what you’ve got running. I typically get 2 to 3 days between charges on mine. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth to perform its awesomeness. It also uses standard 22mm watchbands, in case you want to swap bands. It’s got an intuitive interface, with up/down and select buttons on the right side, and a back button on the left side. It charges from USB (what else) with the included cable that attaches magnetically to the left side of the watch. It’s also water-resistant to 5 ATM, so you won’t mind taking it for a swim, or sweating all over it while exercising.
So, what does it do?
Get notifications – it can get your basic alerts, with wrist vibration action, for phone calls with caller ID, emails, texts, and calendar notifications. And it can essentially be set up to get any notification you can get on your phone, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, sports scores, your garage door opening or closing, or whatever.
Control music – it can play / pause / forward / backward through the music or podcasts on your phone, although (on iPhone at least) your Music app must be in a playlist or album or podcast feed, as there’s no interface for selecting those (yet).
Runs apps – it has a lot of apps, for a lot of stuff, that either work alone, or in conjunction with a companion app on your phone. If I weren’t such a couch potato, I might have one of the many fitness apps such as RunKeeper or PumaTrac. As it is, I like to watch more sports than play them, so I had a World Cup app running while watching Schland, and I keep the ESPN app close at hand. And there’s lots more. You can load them up right from the Pebble app on your phone.
Custom watchfaces – there are hundreds of watchfaces available, from Pebble and from the many developers in the community, also available right from the Pebble app. This is one of my favorites, and it can get ruder than this. Be careful who’s around when you have this one active, though.
At $99, there’s no reason not to get one now — it’s a better deal than all the Android Wear watches, and those won’t mate up with an iPhone anyway. And it’s here now, so you can have fun and amaze your friends without waiting for “mid-2015”.