Monday, January 06, 2014, 11:00 am PT (02:00 pm ET)
Pebble's new $250 Steel smart watch aims for high end of wearable marketPebble is targeting the high end of the smart watch market with its latest wrist-worn offering dubbed Steel, sporting a more premium metal look, a scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass face, and access to the all-new Pebble appstore for new watch functions — coming later this month for $249.
Pebble Steel sets out to answer the question, 'Can you wear a smartwatch and not look like a social outcast?' Instead of last year's plastic design, Pebble Steel uses either brushed stainless steel or a black matte finish and is available on a matching bracelet or leather strap.
Pebble Steel also uses a Gorilla Glass crystal in place of the plastic front face of the previous model, making it one of the first watches to ever have the Corning glass.
Pebble Steel works with all existing Pebble watchfaces and apps, but also introduces the Pebble appstore, which will also work with the classic Pebble which raised over $10 million on Kickstarter. Apps are sorted into 6 categories: Daily, Fitness, Remotes, Tools & Utilities, Notifications, and Games.
Daily covers the sorts of quick access to stocks, weather and news, Remotes controls home appliances, thermostats and cars, Utilities include currency converters, finding local services and so on.
The use of notifications are particularly interesting, as previously the Pebble watch would use the iOS Notification Center to manage such alerts. But with the upcoming launch of the Pebble appstore, it's possible for app developers to send customized notifications directly from their app to Pebble Steel, meaning app developers can create a more unified experience from phone to wrist.
Pebble has promised to push a firmware update called OS 2.0 to existing Pebble users toward the end of January. The software update will be compatible with SDK 2.0 apps that will be available in the appstore.
Pebble also has been hard at work on creating partnerships, including an alliance with Mercedes Benz. The Mercedes apps allows users to do things like check fuel level, find their car, or control the entertainment system of a Mercedes from their wrist.
Other partnerships highlighted by Pebble include ESPN, Yelp!, GoPro, Foursquare, Pandora, and iControl. iControl covers home automation lighting and alarm systems, where GoPro is a popular iPhone-connected action camera which AppleInsider reviewed last fall.
Up until now, watch faces could only be designed at a computer, either by a developer or using third-party websites. With the launch of the Pebble appstore, it will become possible to make watch faces on the connected Android or iPhone using Pebble Canvas, an app for the phone.
Pebble Steel retails for $249 USD at getpebble.com, with pre-orders are set to ship January 28. The Pebble appstore should launch for classic Pebble users around the same time.
AppleInsider will be in Las Vegas, Nev., for CES this week, and will be offering full hands-on impressions of the new Pebble Steel lineup, as well as other wearable devices scheduled to be on the show floor. For more, see our ongoing coverage of CES 2014.
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