Like a countdown to your birthday, Pebble has placed a nefarious timer on its website leaving us with nothing but our brains to speculate. While nothing is concrete, according to sources close to 9to5Mac, a “major update to both the Pebble’s hardware and software have been in the works and that these changes could be ready to debut next week.” With 4 days left to spare and endless possibilities of what changes to “software” and “hardware” could mean; these are likely to be four long days full of media speculation.
The timer is set to end on February 24th at 10:00 AM and could mean big innovations in the world of smartwatches. There are a number of rumors that are circulating around the net regarding the potential future of our favorite “small-rock” friend. (See what I just did there?)
The Rumor Mill
First, according to sources, the device will have a color e-paper screen. This is in contrast to the black and white e-paper screens that the Pebble and Pebble Steel watches utilize today. The device is also rumored to have an improved backlight for better screen visibility and a microphone for vocal recognition. Despite these enhancements, the device will maintain its flagship battery life; a staple to the Pebble brand. The Pebble Steel touts 7 days on a single charge, quite a bit more than what’s rumored for the upcoming Apple Watch.
Additionally, the device is rumored to be thinner, wider, and will not utilize a touch screen. This is an interesting move considering that the majority of Pebble’s competitors highlight the touchscreen as a major feature. This is likely the result of Pebble wanting to maintain its battery life as touch-sensitive screens require more power. Also, the device will run on an upgrade Cortex M4 processor that will provide increased power for more feature rich apps.
Perhaps what is most exciting, is the potential changes to the operating system of the Pebble. One of Pebble’s key differentiators is that it has its own operating system and a strong library of apps (over 1,000) compatible with both Android and iOS devices. Pebble’s CEO, Eric Migicovsky, has already revealed some interesting facts(not rumors) regarding the future of Pebble’s operating system. In an interview with The Verge, Migicovsky disclosed the following:
We’ve found a new framework to use as an interaction model on the watch,” boasts Migicovsky, before adding that while apps will continue to exist on Pebble, they won’t be the main focus of the platform. “It doesn’t look like what we have today, and it doesn’t look like what’s on your smartphone
A deviation from mimicking smartphone functionality is a drastic change compared to other what other smartwatches are doing on the market today. The majority of today’s smartwatches serve as an extension of your phone centered around apps, notifications, and widgets. A new “framework and interaction model” could be just the thing needed increase consumer adoption; as smartwatches have yet to really take the market by storm.
These potential changes come after Pebble increased its team from 30 to 100 employees including some brought over from LG’s WebOS TV Design team. The WebOS team was responsible for taking the WebOS operating system that was widely considered a failure, and turning it around to sell more than 1.1 million WebOS powered devices. With a team of such talent, an innovative new way to interact with smartwatches could be brewing just around the corner.
What Do We Want?
There are two primary “wants” that we have for the new Pebble smartwatch. The first is simple, we want the Pebble to maintain the strengths that have set the original Pebble apart over the past few years. This includes strong battery life, a continuously growing repository of apps, customizable watch faces, and a competitive price point.
Additionally, after what Eric revealed regarding a new “framework for interaction,” we want a new form of smartwatch input. Effective input has been one of the primary challenges facing smartwatches today. Whether using a tiny touch screen, navigating with limited physical buttons, or utilizing less than effective voice commands; going beyond glorified notifications has been the smartwatch challenge. A new and innovative input for the device could be the game changer that steals the lime light away from Apple’s upcoming smartwatch.
The reality is, the upcoming announcement could have nothing to do with a new Pebble watch or operating system. However, with the amount of buzz they have stirred up, anything less would be disappointing and anti-climactic. Don’t let us down Pebble.
What do you think Pebble’s timer is counting down to reveal? Have you heard any rumors that we didn’t list above? What new features do you want in a new Pebble? Sound off in the comments below.