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Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

When I started to write this, I had this idea that I’d write an article that looked at the features and the usability of the Pebble and those of the Apple Watch. Both have the ability to load custom apps, both have app stores, both do many of the same other tasks, etc. watch-dmPebble_Technology_Pebble_669108_i0 The problem with that premise for this article is that they simply aren’t even remotely comparable. Let’s look at why:
  • Apps: The Apple Watch can support apps and glances from apps. You can load as many as the thing can take, you can get different types of apps and there are already hundreds (if not thousands – I don’t have the patience to count) of apps that have support for the Apple Watch. The Pebble on the other hand is limited to 8 concurrent apps and I have never actually found more than 5 that I wanted to use that didn’t involve a watch face.
  • Watch faces: I don’t change watch faces really. Most of the apps on a Pebble are all about custom watch faces. Pick your favorite school, your favorite Disney character, etc. The watch faces available for the Apple Watch are great and all, but the default face, with instant access to the calendar, your exercise stats, the weather, and of course the time, are is really what the device is about and the best usability option, something Apple has always excelled at. It would be great if the other time zone option on the Apple Watch had some really cool stuff you could swap it out with. If you force tap on the screen, you can certainly select other things, but all the cool stuff is placed in other areas of the default watch face.
  • The screen: The screen on the Apple Watch is just a beautiful screen, with full color, lots of pixels, etc. The screen on the Pebble more closely resembles options from an Atari 2600. So, think Wii vs 2600 (aka e-paper)…
  • The app that manages the wearable: The Apple Watch app has in app controls for what’s available on phones, can configure which apps/glances are shown, unpair/re-pair, configure notifications, manage Do Not Disturb, put the device into Do Not Disturb mode, configure passcodes, manage sounds and vibrations, configure brightness and size. It’s pretty robust. The app for the Pebble does much less, but is on par given the features available on the device in general.
  • Light: The type of light emitted by the Pebble actually makes it a little easier to see in sunlight to me. But if you have sunglasses on then forget about it. Which I usually do when there’s a lot of sunlight. But this is a showstopper for some. Like those who (legitimately) still look for raised keyboards on phones…
  • Battery life: The Pebble kicks the crap out the Apple Watch when it comes to battery life. I’ve not charged my Pebble once in a week and it was happily camping straight into the next week. My Apple Watch must be charged daily.
  • Older iPhones: The Pebble can work on any iOS 6 compatible device (and up). The Apple Watch needs an iOS 8 device. So if you have an older phone, you’ll likely want a Pebble. Or take this as the opportunity to stop listening to 90s era Brittany Spears and upgrade your phone when you buy a watch.
  • App security: There are apps that can muck up a Pebble. This ranges from screen distortion to apps crashing. I tend to think that if an app can cause a device to crash then it could be intentionally designed to do more worser (yes, that was on purpose) things to the device as well. I could be wrong and haven’t spent any real time doing security research on the device, but it seems like a bad thing. Meanwhile, apps that go to an Apple Watch go through the App Store and so have at least some semblance of review.
  • Music Control: I like the Pebble more in this respect. It instantly sends commands to music on your phone. The Apple Watch always seems to be just a little bit delayed (not bad, but I can notice the delay). Having said that, the Apple Watch also has a Remote app, so you can also control music streaming out of computers onto Apple TVs.
  • Instant Messaging: The Pebble can show you messages. The Apple Watch can as well, but goes a step or 10 further and actually allows you to send voice messages, text messages, animated Emoji and even your heartbeat (which people keep creepily sending me – except that one guy who has none – but we all knew he was a lich so whatever on that).
  • Fitness: The fitness options on the Pebble are mostly from apps. The apps are a bit limited, but you can do a few pretty cool things. There are more built-in options on the Apple Watch; however, the 3rd party apps for Fitness tracking are pretty considerable and growing daily.
  • Pay for all the stuffs: Apple Pay isn’t the most widely accepted form of payment around, but it is gaining in popularity and pretty cool. Not sure if NFC is really going to be changing the world, but it might, and a wearable that isn’t specifically a fitness tracker is likely going to need it over the coming year.
  • Price: The Pebble can be $89. The Apple Watch starts at $350 and goes up to thousands (10 of ’em actually).
Overall, the Pebble is inexpensive. At 4 times the cost is the Apple Watch, which has less battery power but way more features. So it’s not Apples to Apples (no pun intended) to compare these. If you’re interested in a really inexpensive wearable and not worried about all the crazy features that come on them, check out the Pebble. But, the Apple Watch, as with many an Apple product, is very much worth the price tag. Unless you’re getting a gold one…

May 11th, 2015

Posted In: Apple Watch

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