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Pebble again turns to crowdfunding to take on Apple Watch with new color display model

Best known for being a blockbuster success on Kickstarter, Pebble announced on Tuesday that it is returning to its roots, and will crowdfund its next-generation smartwatch with a color display and voice input, in a bid to take on the upcoming Apple Watch.

With a fundraising goal of $500,000, Pebble blew past that target almost immediately Tuesday morning after the campaign was announced. The highlight of the new model is a color e-paper display that the company says will offer up to 7 days of battery life.

Dubbed the Pebble Time, the device also features a new timeline interface that's said to highlight what's important. The hardware is also water resistant and remains compatible with the existing 6,500 Pebble apps and watchfaces.

An integrated microphone also allows users to send voice replies to incoming notifications, though voice replies will be limited to Gmail notifications on an iPhone. Android users will be able to send voice replies with "most" major apps for that platform.

Pebble expects the Time to begin shipping to customers in May. While Kickstarter supporters will get a discount, the final shipping price of the device will be $199.

Pebble Time is 20 percent thinner than the original model, at just 9.5 millimeters. It also features a scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass display.

Input with the Pebble remains driven solely by physical buttons, with three located on the right side of the hardware, and one on the left. The redesigned user interface uses the top right button for "past" information, the center one to access the "present," and the bottom right button for "future."

The Pebble Time will work on an iPhone 4s and above running iOS 8. The company says the display is daylight readable and includes a backlight.

The watch will use any standard 22-millimeter watch band, and step tracking will require a separate Misfit or Jawbone device.

Apple, of course, will begin shipping its own Apple Watch to customers in April. For $150 more than the new Pebble Time, it will include an OLED touchscreen, step tracking, heart rate monitoring, Siri compatibility, and more.